Schools across the Tri-Cities are set to open June 1 as part of a province-wide partial re-opening announced by the province Friday morning.
The partial re-introduction of classes across the province will pave the way for a “cleaner and smoother” reintroduction in September, said Premier John Horgan at a press conference announcing the plan.
“This won’t be back to the way school was before the pandemic,” said minister of education Rob Fleming.
The optional, part-time classes will operate at 50% capacity for Kindergarten to Grade 5 students and 20% capacity for grades 6 through 12. Each school district will adjust hallway flows, congregation of students, and ensure the sterilization of high-touch areas with daily deep cleaning.
Part-time students will have staggered lunch breaks, drop-off and pick-up times.
Students and staff will also be required to wash their hands upon entering schools, perform self-assessments for COVID-19 symptoms and bus drivers will be provided with Plexiglass barriers.
“If someone does become ill, we have a comprehensive plan to support them,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Parents can continue to teach at home if they choose, while those who send their children to school part-time can finish up the rest of their learning at home.
School leaders will be contacting parents before May 22 to provide more information, said Fleming. If parents are not contacted, the minister recommends contacting the school’s principal.
For those getting set to graduate, the minister reiterated a call for flexibility in the expectations of learning outcomes.
For many students, a partial return to class will mean a chance to reconnect with friends and teachers who they haven’t seen face-to-face for months.
“It’s an opportunity to say ‘hello’ and potentially ‘goodbye,’” said Dr. Henry.
Childcare operators are not required to open at this time.
More to come...