The back to school, in-person classes might look very different from usual according to school district officials. (Houston Today file photo)

SD54 and SD91 figuring out a back to school plan

B.C. government hopes to get students back to in-person classes

The B.C. government’s plan to roll out ‘learning groups’ as well as to provide funding to schools amidst the pandemic, has school districts regrouping to make plans for the upcoming school year.

On July 29, Education Minister Rob Fleming, along with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry released the province’s plans for schools for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. They also announced September 8, as the official back-to-school date for all schools in the province and put forth a plan to organize kids into “learning groups” to minimize the transmission risk.

Matthew Monkman, the assistant superintendent for School District 54 (SD54) said that the school district was in the process of reviewing feedback from parent, student and staff surveys at the end of June, “so that those responses can be used to inform teaching and support practices in the year ahead.”

He also said that the district maintenance and technology staff has been working to prepare for Covid-related contingency plans, like ensuring that all teachers have the equipment within their school work space to support remote technical learning in case things go back to that.

“Staff will be working over the next number of weeks to determine the implementation logistics for the Cohort Model that has been developed under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. We will take time to consult with our partner groups to ensure that we develop well thought-out practices to keep staff and students safe while ensuring an effective learning environment,” said Monkman.

School District 91 (SD91) Assistant Superintendent Mike Skinner said, “As this was just announced, our district (like all districts), will need some time to examine the details from the government and work with our staff to plan for September. As per the message today, all districts need to submit a planning document to the Ministry by August 26.”

The school district plans to begin work with staff, unions and other stakeholders in the school restart, to develop procedures and protocols that would meet the requirements set forth by Public Health, WorkSafe BC and the Ministry of Education.

“As mentioned several times in the public announcement today, schools will look and feel different in the fall and we can expect that the usual routines will be impacted for the foreseeable future due to these unprecedented times,” said Skinner.

The province, in their announcement also shared its plan to support schools with $45.6 million in funding to ensure best practices in cleaning high-contact services, to increase hand sanitizing stations as well as to provide optional masks.

At the time of going to press, neither SD91, nor SD54 had any specifics around how much funding the schools under each of the districts would be receiving.

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