B.C. K-12 schools suspended indefinitely
Education Minister Rob Fleming says all students will receive final marks
Elementary and secondary schools in British Columbia will remain closed indefinitely at the end of spring break because of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
"The difficult decision has been made to suspend K-12 learning at this time," said Premier John Horgan, at a news conference in Victoria on Tuesday.
- Stay informed by joining our CBC Vancouver Facebook group on coronavirus
Most of B.C.'s 550,000 students are currently out of school until March 30.
Education Minister Rob Fleming said the suspension of classroom instruction could last for some time and that officials were looking at new methods for electronic or online learning.
"As the global pandemic of COVID-19 is evolving quickly and is having a growing impact in B.C., we have to take action today to protect our students and staff and keep our schools safe," he said.
Watch: B.C. Education Minister announces every eligible Grade 12 student will graduate
On Monday, in its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, the province announced gatherings of more than 50 people were banned. This policy would affect most schools.
On Sunday, parents, staff and students at Irwin Park Elementary School in West Vancouver were informed that a person at the school had tested positive for COVID-19.
Washington state to the south — a hotspot for COVID-19 — has already closed schools for at least six weeks, and on the weekend, Alberta cancelled all kindergarten to Grade 12 classes in that province indefinitely because of the pandemic.
Regardless of what happens in the next months, Fleming said all students will receive a final mark.
"All students on track to move to the next grade in the fall will do so. Grade 10 and 11 students, graduation assessments will be postponed," he said.
"I know that parents of students in Grade 12 will have unique concerns. Every student eligible to graduate Grade 12 this year will graduate."
School-based daycares remain open
Even though classrooms are closed, Horgan said the province will keep school-based daycares open to provide child care for essential workers.
"Health-care providers and other essential personnel in the economy need access to child care," he said. "Parents should take comfort in that, but it is an evolving situation. Should the public health officials give us different directions, we'll be taking different actions."
According to Fleming, a small number of independent and public schools not already on spring break have been told to suspend classes immediately.
He asked that parents and guardians speak to their children about the reasons behind today's announcements.
"The actions we are taking today are temporary," he said. "We will return to regular school life down the road. In the meantime, look out for one another."
If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.