Premier John Horgan addressed concerns over returning to class

Work to ease school worries

Despite many parents in B.C. feeling anxious about sending their kids back to school next month, Premier John Horgan says a return to class is “fundamental to reestablishing a normalcy within our communities.”

An Insights West poll published Wednesday found 49 per cent of B.C. parents are uncomfortable sending their kids back to school in September. On Wednesday, the government slightly adjusted the back-to-school plan, pushing students' return to class back two days to Sept. 10.

Parents and school staff have been expressing concerns for weeks, and during Wednesday's press conference, Horgan addressed these concerns.

“I know there are going to be those who are concerned, we're working every day diligently to try and ease those concerns and make it as safe as we possibly can,” Horgan said.

“Am I apprehensive? Sure, but I think that we can go into this with the best of intentions and have the best outcomes if we all work together and keep that flexibility that Minister Fleming demonstrated this week.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the details of the return-to-school plan from a public health framework “are coming," and the province said school districts would be receiving these details by Aug. 17.

The Insights West poll found that just 27 per cent of those asked would prefer a return to full-time class work, while 41 per cent would prefer a hybrid model of part-time class work combined with remote learning.

Horgan noted that Education Minister Rob Fleming “has been working tirelessly” with parents, school staff and even some high school students to ensure the plan meets everyone's needs.

“We've demonstrated just this week that adjustments will be made as required and I think that's what parents expect, that's what educators expect and what we have to focus on is the wellbeing of everyone in the system, and that's our focus," he said. 

“What's needed in Salmon Arm is not what's needed in Saanich, or in Salmo in the Kootenays. Every school is different, every district is different and teachers, administrators, trustees and parents are all going to have to find a way to make it work.”

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