British Columbia

September school restart plans to be revealed by late July or early August, says B.C. education minister

B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming says parents of kindergarten to Grade 7 students should prepare for a full September restart.

Steering committee made up of teachers, support staff, principals and parent organizations working on plan

Rob Fleming is B.C.'s Minister of Education. (CBC)

B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming says a detailed plan of the September restart will be released in a few weeks time, but parents of kindergarten to Grade 7 students should prepare for a full restart.

"I would say to parents this: there is an awful lot of planning going on with every major stakeholder in the education system to have a safe restart to the school system," Fleming told reporters at a scrum Wednesday.

"Parents with children in elementary school, for example, and younger siblings that have been in child care [should plan] to contact their provider and secure those spaces and plan what life would look like under the new normal in September."

A steering committee made up of teachers, support staff, principals, vice-principals and parent organizations is working to iron out some of the details. 

B.C. Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring, who is part of those discussions, says the team has been looking at things like ensuring there is a safe supply of personal protective equipment for anyone who needs or wants it and factoring how much additional time teachers will need to plan for their unique circumstances and students. 

Mooring said they're taking a "trauma-informed" approach to planning for the school year, to ensure families and students that have experienced difficulties like job loss and mental health struggles through the pandemic are cared for.

"We need to be really taking a caring and compassionate approach as we enter into September. It's been a difficult time for everyone."

For students who may be immunocompromised or live in households with immunocompromised individuals, Fleming said there will be accommodations, but encouraged parents to reach out to schools to start setting up those learning plans now.

"Safety is our priority and that's not going to change," he said. 

Fleming said while the goal is to reopen, everything still depends on the course of the pandemic in the province over the next few months.

"We have to make the best plans we can, the most thorough plans we can, and always check that against how well British Columbia is doing in the pandemic because that informs, ultimately, how we're able to do."

With files from Daybreak South, Courtney Dickson

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