Public and independent schools across B.C. are preparing to reopen schools March 30, with most students and staff staying away to comply with the order to suspend classroom instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools are not closed, but in-person instruction is suspended by order of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The order allows daycare facilities to continue on school properties if their operators choose to keep them going, and some students to come to school to allow health care and other essential service workers to carry on with their jobs.
The education ministry has established a website to assist parents and schools, with districts developing their own strategies to continue education.
“Each school district and independent school authority will develop a plan that best responds to the needs of their local community,” the ministry website advises. “This could include measures such as online learning tools and/or resource packages or assignments e-mailed from teachers to parents.”
Surrey school district superintendent Jordan Tinney posted a video message advising teachers and support staff to stay away from schools until notified.
“Doing our part means that unless a principal or site supervisor has communicated directly with you about the need to be on site from March 30 to April 3, then we are asking you to stay away from school sites so that we can keep them clean, so that we can arrange a rotation for some staff to gather materials and resources as absolutely necessary, and for us to be able to monitor who is on site and to continue to keep our sites clean and safe for all,” Tinney said.
The rotation will allow teachers to pick up needed technology and do photocopying, with administration knowing who is in the building and using equipment so it can be cleaned.
The ministry and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation have set up technical committees to deal with special needs students and accommodate employees who are self-isolating or have other medical issues.