British Columbia

Here's how B.C. schools will return to classroom learning

The Ministry of Education has released a five-stage plan for all 60 school districts in B.C. to put into action.

It's a five-stage plan that each district will put into action

All B.C. schools were closed on March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently some schools have reopened select programs and the plan is to expand the number of students back in classrooms by June, with a full return to normal by September. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The provincial government announced a gradual return to normal life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic this week and it includes a five-stage plan to resuming in-class learning for B.C. students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

According to the Ministry of Education, stage one is the final step and includes the full return of all students to their classrooms. Currently, all 60 school districts and independent schools are in stage four in which classroom programs are available only to select students.

Stephanie Higginson, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association, said the stages will look different in each district as it decides how best to introduce them.

These are the five stages as defined by the ministry:

Stage five

  • This was the initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic when all B.C. schools were closed on March 17. 
  • It includes the suspension of all in-class instruction for all grades and students. During this stage, all learning is done remotely and online.

Stage four

  • This is the current stage for all 60 B.C. school districts and independent schools.
  • Most students are still learning remotely or online, but exceptions are made for children of essential workers and vulnerable students.
  • According to the ministry, there are currently 4,700 children of essential workers and 300 students with high-learning needs attending these in-class programs.
Almost 5,000 children of essential and front-line workers are currently participating in in-class programs across the province. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Stage three

  • Stage three includes in-class learning for kindergarten to Grade 5 on a part-time basis and access to in-class learning as needed for Grades 6 to 12 on a part-time basis. 
  • Remote and online learning will still be available.

Stage two

  • Students in elementary school — kindergarten to Grade 7  — will return to classrooms full time and secondary students  — Grade 8 to12  — will return on a part-time basis.
  • Secondary students will still have access to remote and online learning if they prefer.

Stage 1

  • This is the return to full in-class instruction for all students from kindergarten to Grade 12 in the province.
Premier John Horgan said B.C. is preparing for a full resumption of school by September. (Syda Productions/Shutterstock)

While outlining plans to ease restrictions provincewide, Premier John Horgan said B.C. is preparing for a full resumption of school by September. In the meantime, Horgan said classrooms would open their doors to more students by next month.

Higginson said she expects districts to move into stage three by June, if not before.

She estimated that in stage three, the younger group will have classroom instruction about 50 per cent of the week. Older students, who she said are better at self-regulation and online learning, would receive about 20 per cent of instruction in class.

During stage three, remote and online learning will still be available and in-class attendance will be optional.

"No family will be forced to send their child back," said Higginson.

To hear the complete interview with Stephanie Higginson on The Early Edition, tap the audio link below:

Stephanie Higginson is the President of the British Columbia School Trustees Association 7:15

With files from The Early Edition

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