Plan on five-day school week in fall for K-7, education minister says

Parents of children entering kindergarten to Grade 7 should plan for a five-day-a-week return to school in September, says B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming.

Fleming said Wednesday a provincially appointed steering committee that includes teachers, support staff, unions, principals, vice-principals and parent organizations is ironing out plans to have as many kids back in school as possible.

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“There is an awful lot of planning going on with every major stakeholder in the education system to have a safe full restart to the school system,” said Fleming, adding the approach will be based on how the province continues to manage coronavirus transmission rates.

“Parents should plan accordingly that in September we will see kids — certainly K to 7 kids — back in school.”

Fleming did not directly explain what the plan for Grade 8-12 would look like in September, but did say the province is working from its restart planning document.

The ministry has a five-phase restart plan for September, ranging from no in-class instruction to full class instruction (Stage 1).

The school year ended in June in “Stage 3” — a part-time reopening that saw K-5 students return to school up to three days a week and the rest one day a week (with five-day instruction available to children of essential service workers and those requiring additional supports). The balance of learning was online.

Stage 2 in the document would see K-7 instruction five days a week, with Grade 8-12 instruction two days a week.

An announcement about the new school year is expected in about three weeks, Fleming said.

The health and safety protocols and “exact bell to bell schedules” will come through school districts and individual schools, but the broad direction will come from the province, said Fleming.

For immune-compromised students, parents can start to plan for special accommodations with individual schools and districts, he said.

“I would encourage parents to contact principals and vice-principals and teaching staff and district staff to make those kinds of arrangements.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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