Delta students could be going back into their classrooms at some point– but just a few at a time.
According to a Ministry of Education bulletin this week, while it had suspended in-person instruction for the time being, school districts and independent school authorities have been directed to develop plans to ensure on-going instruction, as well as services and supports for the children of essential service workers.
While not providing timelines when in-class instruction might begin, the bulletin notes the intent is that a limited number of students would be present in-person in schools at any given time in order to allow for sufficient physical distancing.
The public health officer’s order of a maximum of no more than 50 people in one place is intended to prevent large groups of people from gathering in close quarters with one another, the memo notes.
“There could be more than 50 students and staff in a school at any given time if they are not all in one area at the same time and are actively engaged in physical distancing to the extent possible. School districts are considering how to prioritize in-person visits to schools and explore how to reserve these opportunities for those who need it most (i.e. children of essential service workers or students that will not be able to engage in learning easily from home). School districts are encouraged to work and communicate regularly with their local medical health officer in the health authority to ensure that protocols that are put in place in schools respect the guidelines provided by the PHO,” the memo explains.
The ministry notes school districts are also developing plans for how they can deliver learning opportunities using alternative methods which could include online learning
The ministry also states it will be working with the public health officer and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) on how to ensure the health and safety of staff and students who are present in schools now and in the weeks ahead.
The ministry also says school districts have been asked to put in place learning opportunities for students as soon as practically possible, no later than mid-April.
They will be taking the time over the coming weeks to develop plans for how ongoing learning opportunities can be provided to students during this period of time, the memo adds.
“Learning opportunities will look different during this time. Each school district and independent school authority will develop a plan that best responds to the needs of their local community. This could include measures such as online learning tools and/or resource packages or assignments e-mailed from teachers to parents.”
The memo goes on to state, “School districts and independent schools are developing plans for how they can deliver learning opportunities using alternative methods (i.e. not in-person), which could include online learning. The alternative approaches put in place in individual schools and classes may look slightly different depending on the students and families that these schools serve, which is why the planning needs to be completed at the local level.”
A spokesperson with the Delta school district told the Optimist the district tomorrow (Friday, March 27) will provide parents more information on what they can expect from their school and teachers over the coming weeks.
“Delta School District staff have been working hard to develop a plan to provide opportunities for learning and educational services to our students. This working plan is based on guidance from the Ministry of Education and will be revised in accordance with future Ministry guidelines as we receive them. It is important to know that a fully formed plan will not be in place by March 30, and service to students will not begin until sometime after that date,” the district noted.
During a virtual town hall meeting at Delta City Hall today, Delta North MLA Ravi Khalon commented on when school instruction could resume.
“A lot of parents are concerned with what is happening with schools and we have already announced that kids for sure will not be going back for another three weeks after spring break is over. Teachers and people who work in the schools will start going back soon. What they will do is starting to work on that contingency plan - how we will provide education to our young people through our system if they are not physically in the classroom. I’m not saying school will be done for the rest of the year, I don’t know, we don’t know that, but we are starting to prepare a plan for educational opportunities for young people for the rest of the year,” he said.