This photograph was taken on May 5 at NVSS. As a result of the virus pandemic, teachers are now finding innovative techniques to ensure “continuity of education” for their students. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

Health and safety regulations to be followed by schools as they reopen Monday

Ministry of Education wrote a letter to parents dated May 28.

In a letter to parents, the Ministry of Education laid out the health and safety guidelines that school’s have to follow to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The letter signed by Rob Fleming, minister of education and Andrea Sinclair, president of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Council also said parents choose what’s best for their family in terms of sending their kids to school.

“You will have the choice whether you would like to send your child to school part-time for the remainder of the school year. If you choose to send your child to school, it will not be the same as before,” stated the letter to parents.

The goal is to return to full in-class learning in September, as part of B.C.’s Restart Plan announced by Premier Horgan on May 6.

The number of kids at school will be limited to 50 percent of its normal capacity. Kindergarten to Grade 5 students have the option to attend half-time, where they could attend school two or three days a week.

By lowering the capacity, the ministry said they are aiming to lower density which will increase safety for students and staff.

Grades 6 to 12 students have the option to attend school “approximately” one day a week.

Children of essential service workers and students who need additional support will get the option to attend class full-time, the letter stated.

“Each school district and independent school authority has been given the flexibility to set weekly schedules and plans that work best for their school community,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile, all schools will have to implement measures in accordance with the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC health and safety guidelines to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, these include:

  • Students will be spaced apart and groups or gatherings of students in hallways or other common areas will be avoided.
  • There will be regular cleaning of high-contact surfaces like door knobs, toilet seats, keyboards and desks at least twice a day, and cleaning the school building at least once a day.
  • Students, educators and staff will be required to clean their hands before entering school property. There will be more hand-sanitizing and cleaning stations available.
  • There will be staggered drop-offs, lunch and recess breaks, with increased outside time.
  • Staff and students (or their parents/guardians) will be asked to assess themselves daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If any student or staff member has even mild symptoms, arrangements will be made for that person to be returned home.
  • Staff and students will be asked to not share food or personal items like phones, pens or pencils. There will be clear protocols in place for the safe and healthy handling of all food items.
  • To learn more about the guidelines issued by the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC, visit www.gov.bc.ca/SafeSchools

For parents who have chosen not to send their children to school, there will still be options to continue remote learning.

The Ministry has developed a web-based parent resource called Keep Learning BC at www.openschool.bc.ca/KeepLearning. Here you can find free educational activities for every age, designed to support B.C. curriculum.

Below are some links for letters sent by school principals to parents and students in Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Fraser Lake.

READ: NVSS principal’s letter to parents

READ: School will look a lot different, says Fort St. James Secondary School principal

READ: Here is what school will look like for FLESS students

READ: Evelyn Dickson Elementary School letter to parents

READ: W.L. McLeod letter to parents

READ: David Hoy Elementary School’s letter to parents and students


Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

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