The province said that on the advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health administrator, students will be organized into learning groups, a cohesive group of staff and students. They say this will reduce the number of people each student or staff member comes in contact with, reducing the risk of transmission and ensuring faster contact tracing by health authorities.
All school boards and independent school authorities will continue to be required to implement several health and safety measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, in accordance with recently updated guidelines from the BC Center for Disease Control .
As part of the fall comeback, the province said it plans to set up cohorts (learning groups) to reduce the number of close in-person interactions. These groups of students and staff will stay together throughout the school year and primarily interact with each other.
The cohorts will not number more than 60 people in elementary and middle school and no more than 120 people in secondary school.
The province noted that students in a learning group will not all need to be in the same classroom, “but they will be able to interact and connect with each other as a cohesive group during breaks, in common areas such as the gymnasium, library, or on the playground. ”
In addition, staff and students (or their parents / guardians) should also self-assess daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If a student or staff member has even mild symptoms, arrangements will be made for that person to return home.
The province said most elementary schools in the province can return to full-time classroom instruction with minimal changes to school bell schedules and times. Elementary schools will continue to be organized into classrooms as the primary learning environment for students.
Colleges that follow an elementary school model (for example, a classroom with a teacher) will be organized like elementary schools, with minimal changes to school bell times and times.
Colleges that follow a “college” model, in which students move from class to class and take a range of subjects taught by different teachers, may need to be reorganized for full-time classroom learning.
High school students will continue to be organized in classrooms, ensuring that students always have access to elective courses and they will be able to reconfigure their learning group for each new semester. Some schools may reorganize the way they offer courses, for example allowing students to take two courses at a time every 10 weeks.
Small secondary schools
There are 96 public secondary schools and 49 independent schools with fewer than 800 students. These schools will likely only require minor changes to their schedules or doorbell schedules to ensure a safe, full-time return to class for all students.
Medium-sized secondary schools
There are 104 public secondary schools and one independent school with between 800 and 1,500 students. They will need to consider changes to their schedules and doorbell schedules to accommodate full-time students in class.
Large secondary schools
There are 16 public high schools with between 1,500 and 2,000 students, located primarily in the Lower Mainland and Okanagan. For these large high schools, school districts are looking at a variety of options to maximize classroom learning and, in rare cases, may need to offer a hybrid approach with a mix of online and self-directed distance learning.
“Focus on science-based decisions”
BC School Trustees Association President Stephanie Higginson said the province “will continue to focus strongly on science-based decisions as we learn to adjust the delivery of education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She added that school boards across the province “will use updated health and safety measures, created on the advice of the provincial health officer, to ensure that students can continue to receive social support. , emotional and academic provided by their community school during this critical time. education time. ”
Additionally, Fleming said families will be receiving news from their school district or independent school throughout the summer with updated health and safety guidelines for elementary, middle and high schools, as well as learning groups, schedules, registrations and registration information with final details submitted. to the ministry and posted online by the districts on August 26.
“The safety of students and staff is paramount and the government will continue to make science-based decisions, following the expert advice of Dr. Henry and his public health team,” said Fleming.
“We know how important it is for children to return to school – both to support their emotional and mental health and their ability to socialize and learn,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial administrator of the health. “We ask that families and workplaces continue to be flexible as fall dawns.”