One third of B.C. students returned to part-time, in-class learning

30% of kids back in class

UPDATE: 1:20 p.m.

Just under one third of British Columbian students are returning to part-time, in-class learning this week after the province left the decision to return in the hands of parents.

During a press conference Tuesday, Minister of Education Rob Fleming said about 60,000 students returned to school Monday, and another 60,000 are expected in class Tuesday. Students returning are being staggered to reduce the number of people in a classroom at one time.

The province has set guidelines limiting Kindergarten to Grade 5 classes at 50 per cent capacity, with students attending on alternating days, while middle schoolers and high schoolers will go to class about one day per week. Additionally, parents will not be allowed to enter schools through June.

This will allow adequate physical distancing within classes, which Fleming said is the most important measure to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, along with frequent hand and surface washing and staying home while sick.

Children of essential service workers and those needing additional supports, many of whom have already been attending class, will have the option to attend full time.

Fleming said about 90 per cent of teachers have returned to in-class teaching, while about 10 per cent have been “given accommodations” to continue to work from home, to support online-only students. Fleming did not elaborate on what criteria is used to determine which teachers can stay home.

This new in-class/online hybrid system will remain in place through June, but it's still unclear how schools will look come September.

“It's likely that we will have to have a hybrid system again until we have a vaccine, until the pandemic is officially over,” Fleming said. “We have to prepare for a second wave in British Columbia. We have to prepare to be able to move forward as we have done this Monday, and move backwards when we get into the fall and winter.”

When asked about what the province's plan looks like if COVID-19 outbreaks occur within B.C. schools, Fleming was vague, only outlining the measures that will be taken to reduce the risk of that happening.

ORIGINAL: 12:30 p.m.

British Columbia's Minister of Education Rob Fleming discusses the return to part-time in-class learning in the province's schools. 

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