FILE – An empty hallway is seen at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver,on Sept. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

FILE – An empty hallway is seen at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver,on Sept. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Premier wants parents to have Plan B if COVID-19 disrupts September school plans

Goal is to have elementary, middle school students back in classroom fulltime

If a resurgence of COVID-19 forces a closure of classrooms in the fall, parents are being cautioned by B.C.’s premier to have a backup plan in place.

As it stands, the goal is to have a full return to classrooms for students in elementary and middle schools in September with alternative options for secondary school students.

However, this plan could be foiled if B.C. sees a second wave of the novel coronavirus – a likelihood health officials are not ruling out, backed by how other contagions have transmitted through populations historically.

ALSO READ: A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

While it’s unclear exactly when another wave could occur, the fall and winter seasons already see an increase in respiratory illnesses which could lead to a surge in coronavirus cases.

During a weekly news conference on Thursday (July 23), Horgan told reporters that the province will have more information for parents in the weeks to come and the pandemic is being closely monitored by school administrators and provincial officials.

WATCH: Premier John Horgan takes questions from journalists on July 23, 2020

“My plan is to make sure we get it right, not that we get it done by a certain time,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think it’s unreasonable to ask parents to be patient.

Schools in B.C. shuttered doors in March as daily case counts began to increase, requiring parents to home-school their kids. Many struggled to balance working from home with helping their children finish the school year.

ALSO READ: The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Meanwhile, teachers had to quickly adapt lesson plans to rely on online assignments and virtual teaching.

The province moved to a hybrid model in June, blending voluntary in-classroom and online curriculum.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said earlier this week that officials are looking into safe options in the fall, such as a “cohort” model to meet social distancing requirements.

“Of course, it’s going to be a ‘new normal’ situation, schools will look different,” he said in the legislature on Wednesday.

Mandatory masks unlikely for kids, says B.C.’s top doc

While Fleming suggested that masks could be a safety protocol in classrooms, B.C.’s provincial health officer has said that making face coverings mandatory for young students isn’t likely.

“We know from the evidence around the world that that’s not needed, but that there are other ways – important ways – of being able to learn in classroom for younger children, and children of all ages, that can be done safely,” Henry said in a separate news conference.

“Masks for a long period of time are not recommended by anybody in any situation – we know that’s not what keeps people safe.”

Henry said that keeping a distance of two metres from one another, using barriers for separation and proper hygiene are the best methods to reduce virus spread.

Masks could still be made mandatory for teachers.

Fleming, joined by Henry, is expected to offer a back-to-school update next week.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Sheriff Avory Chapman was last seen Jan. 20 on Wellington Avenue in Chilliwack. (RCMP)
RCMP look for missing man last seen in downtown Chilliwack

21-year-old Sheriff Avory Chapman has been missing since Jan. 20

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual interference in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Abbotsford youngster Hudson Poittris is hoping to raise money to provide students at his school friendship bracelets. (Submitted)
VIDEO: Abbotsford youth launches GoFundMe for friendship bracelets

Hudson Poittris, nine, hopes bracelets will increase inclusivity and kindness

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Menno Home in Abbotsford

Long-term care home had 67 cases and 13 deaths since mid-November

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

The SACH Community Hub team, from left to right: Upkar Singh Tatlay, Gary Thandi, Allysha Ram, Jassy Pandher, Harman Pander. (Submitted photo)
There’s help for South Asian men wrestling with drug addiction in Surrey

South Asian deaths related to toxic drugs increased by 255 per cent between 2015 and 2018

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read