Canadá/Aug 21, 2020 /by D
On Wednesday, key staff explained their COVID-19 back-to-school plan that was later presented to the Vancouver school board. The plan will be shown to the Ministry of Education on Friday for final approval.
Associate Superintendent Pedro da Silva said the district’s 18 secondary schools would be at between 60 to 70 per cent occupancy on any given school day and that there would be no formal lunch break.
He said that normally high school students would complete eight courses between September and June. Under the new model, students — in groups of less than 15 — would complete two courses every 10 weeks — two lessons a day, with a flex course if needed in between.
One of those lessons would be in-class while the other would be remote, and every two weeks they would switch the teaching method.
Da Silva said it was very unlikely students would be at school the whole day, but they did have that option if they needed access to technology.
Speaking for the district’s elementary schools, Deena Kotak-Buckley, the director of Instruction, said groups of no more than 60 (in other words, several different classes) would be eating lunch in class. She said those cohorts would be chosen by teachers, with a focus on ensuring friends stayed together and student’s “social and emotional needs” were met.
Deputy Superintendent David Nelson said parents would be emailed a survey on Aug. 24, with more information — including who the student’s teacher will be — being sent during the week of Aug. 31.
Nelson said parents would be contacted by their child’s teacher on Sept. 8 and 9, and the first full day of learning for grades 1 to 12 would be Sept. 14.
The Surrey school district, B.C.’s largest, will also present its back-to-school plan to the Ministry of Education on Friday.
The Surrey and Vancouver plans are similar, except in cohort size numbers. Surrey has not yet revealed the cohort size for elementary schools, but it will be limited to 60 staff and students for grades 8 and 9, and 30 for grades 10, 11 and 12.
Also on Wednesday, B.C.’s teachers asked the provincial government to make classes smaller during the COVID-19 pandemic and implement a stricter mask policy.
In a prepared statement, B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said that given B.C.’s recent sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, the government should create a hybrid model of in-class teaching and remote learning across the province. That’s similar to what is proposed by the VSB for high schools.
“B.C. needs to reduce classroom density and mandate mask use whenever appropriate physical distancing isn’t possible. That includes our work spaces like classrooms, labs, and libraries — not just common spaces like hallways,” Mooring said.
Mooring said B.C. should be pursuing a remote learning model that would allow for in-class and remote learning.
“Right across this province, new timetables are being developed that will see teachers and support staff in classrooms with up to 30 students or more without physical barriers, capacity limits or face coverings that we have all grown accustomed to in other workplaces like the grocery store, dental office or restaurant,” said Mooring.
The government has already promised $45.6 million to school districts for enhanced cleaning, handwashing stations and reusable masks.
The union is also asking for a policy that would require all adults and students 10 years and older to wear face masks when physical distancing is not possible, as long as there is not a medical condition that prevents their use.
It also wants accommodations for teachers who are immunocompromised or have chronic health conditions.
“B.C. teachers are workers, just like any other profession in this province, and they need to be safe.”
In response, Education Minister Rob Fleming said his government would “continue to work with teachers, parents, support staff and education partners on the steering committee on the safe restart plan.”
Fleming said there were 25 teachers in working groups creating detailed operational guideline to support school districts with their restart plans.
“The health and safety of teachers, students and staff is our top priority,” he said.