Mount Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook. Photo courtesy SD5.

SD5 working with province on phased plan to return to classrooms

As the province has announced plans to slowly lift COVID-19 restrictions in phases, the path forward for in-class learning at B.C. schools remains unknown.

However, under the phased approach unveiled by Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Public Health Officer, reopening schools falls under the third stage. If COVID-19 transmission rates remain low, that means planning for a return to class in September, according to the province.

For now, educational learning opportunities will continue to be delivered remotely and online, while in-class learning is available for children of essential workers and vulnerable students.

The Province has a five-stage process to moving back towards complete in-class instruction, and is working with all 60 districts to make that a reality, in consultation with independent schools, First Nations schools, support staff and public health authorities.

According to the provincial plan, Stage 5 was suspending all in-class instruction for all grades and setting up remote and online learning for all students. From there, the stages relax restrictions and open up opportunities until Stage One, which is a resumption of full in-class instruction.

Currently in Stage 4, the province is working on reaching the next level, which means allowing part-time in-class learning for kindergarten to Grade 5 students, with access to in-class learning for Grade 6-12 on a part-time basis, while keeping remote and online learning opportunities available. The Southeast Kootenay school district is currently working with various partners to plan for Stage 3, according to the latest update from Silke Yardley, the SD5 superintendent.

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka said it was unlikely that classes will resume by June, in a recent interview with the Townsman.

“It looks like we’re looking at a September opening for schools,” he said. “There was talk about it opening in the middle of May or at the end of May on a voluntary basis, but I think there’s some other issues that are happening there.”

Updates on what’s happening with local schools can be found on the SD5 website.

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