Some Mission students could be returning to class at the end of May.
The BC government announced last week that it is moving cautiously to open up more businesses and services in the COVID-19 pandemic, but the plan for public schools is still unclear, says Mission superintendent Angus Wilson.
He explained there are five stages for the education system in BC. Stage 1 is “normal, regular school,” while Stage 5 is everything being done remotely and nothing happening in school.
Wilson said Mission is currently at Stage 4.
“Most kids are online, but there are some kids in childcare, some kids coming to school for very specific and particular reasons for individual support, but 95 per cent of kids are at home,” he said.
Now the government is hoping school districts can move to Stage 3, but it will take some time and planning.
Wilson said Stage 3 involves students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 receiving part-time face-to-face instruction and students in Grade 7 and up continuing the online process.
“Some of the kids would come two days a week; some of the other kids come a different two days of the week. That would reduce class sizes to around 12 students.”
However, Wilson said there are two main points that need to be emphasized.
“Whatever happens between now and June 30 is optional. Parents have the right to keep their child at home if they think that’s best.
“Also, we are still waiting for further guidelines and protocols from the Ministry of Education before we can begin.”
Students in Grade 7 and higher could also return to schools one day a week, according to the provincial government, but details on how that will be accomplished are pending.
Any changes are not expected to occur until at least the final week of this month (May 25-29). However, there are many factors that could change the situation.
Wilson said it’s going to be a complicated procedure as they have to consider the safety of students and teachers as well as school secretaries, bus drivers and more.
“How many kids are allowed on the school bus? What is the maximum number of kids allowed in a classroom? We are still waiting for rules and guidelines,” he said.
Overall, the hope is that by September, public schools will be back at Stage 1.
Even then, Wilson said the stages may change depending on what is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nothing is certain.”
Some teachers are returning to class this week to prepare classrooms for the new social-distancing configurations.