The BC government, alongside Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, has announced details of Stage 2 of BC's Education Restart Plan.
Enhanced safety measures and additional resources will enable most students in grades K-12 to return to school on Sept. 8, 2020, with full-time in-class learning as the province moves to Stage 2 of B.C.’s Education Restart Plan.
Stage 2 Details
Stage 2 is a full return to in-class instruction for all students for the maximum time possible within learning group limits.
On the advice of the provincial health officer, students will be organized into learning groups, a consistent group of staff and students. This will reduce the number of people each student or staff member will come into contact with, reducing the risk of transmission and ensuring quicker contact tracing by health authorities.
All boards of education and independent school authorities will continue to be required to implement a suite of health and safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, following the recently updated guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Parents will be contacted by their school or school district/authority to confirm the educational program options available for September 2020. Visit your school and district websites for regular information updates.
Returning to School
Under Stage 2 of BC’s Education Restart Plan, most K-12 students will have access to full-time, in-class instruction this September and schools will be ready to host them. Parents will still have flexibility in several key areas:
- Parents of children with complex medical conditions or underlying risk factors should consult with their health care provider to determine their child’s level of risk regarding a return to school
- Protective self-isolation is only recommended for children with severe immune compromise, on a case-by-case basis
- Parents who do not want their child to attend in-person classes at a public or independent school have the option to register their child for online and distributed learning (based on program availability) or home-schooling
Enhanced Health and Safety Measures
Cleaning will occur on a more frequent basis, including classrooms and high touch areas like door knobs, toilet seats, keyboards and desks. Other changes include:
- Organizing students into learning groups
- Increased spacing between students in classrooms
- More individual and smaller group activities
- Limitations on assemblies and other large gatherings
Review the COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 School Settings (PDF) for more information on K-12 health and safety measures.
- Monitor child daily for symptoms
- Do not send your child to school if they are sick. Any child who is sick will not be allowed in school
- Encourage your child to minimize physical contact with friends
- Frequent handwashing, including before coming to school, as well as before and after all breaks
- Use of provided hand sanitizer
- Label your personal items and do not share them
The wearing of masks at school is not mandatory. Students and staff are NOT required to wear masks. The wearing of a mask remains a personal choice.
The Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) advise that masks are not recommended for use by young children.
- In young children, masks can be irritating and can lead to increased touching of the face and eyes
For older students and staff, non-medical masks will be provided upon request for use in situations where the person is interacting with someone from outside of their learning group and cannot maintain physical distance for an extended period of time.
- This includes riding the bus to school where a student may be sitting next to a person outside of their household or learning group
If a Student Feels Sick at School
The BCCDC guidelines for schools are firm. If any student or staff member has even mild symptoms of a cold, flu or COVID-19, they must not attend school.
- If a student or staff member develops symptoms at school, protocols are in place for the person to be isolated and returned home as soon as possible
- Custodial staff would then clean and disinfect the area where the person had been isolated and any areas used by them
- Public health would be notified immediately of a potential case
If anyone at school tests positive for COVID-19, provincial measures are in place for public health to work with school administration on contact tracing.
- Public health officials will also work with school administration to determine what actions should be taken and if suspending in-class learning is necessary
- If any staff or student has been in contact with a COVID-positive person, they will be notified by public health officials and must self-isolate