Dr Bonnie Henry suggests acceptable 1 meter distance in classrooms as teachers push for smaller classes

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The BC provincial health worker said students returning to school next week won’t necessarily have to stay two meters apart in classrooms, as has been the protocol for physical distance measurements since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.Dr Bonnie Henry announced Thursday that one meter instead of two is acceptable in controlled environments where a limited number of people are together for a continuous period, such as in classrooms.

“Two meters is better, but with the same people you are all the time, one meter is probably fine for most of your interactions,” she said at a press conference.

Henry’s comments on physical distance come as teachers demand more space in classrooms and common areas in schools.

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) said federal funding for reopening BC schools should be used to create smaller classrooms and reduce the density of schools and classrooms, create options for blended and distance learning in each district and fund mental health resources for students. .

On Wednesday, the province said the $ 242 million in federal money would be given to school districts to spend as needed over the next few months.

“Thirty desks in a classroom is still a lot,” BECF president Terri Mooring told CBC. The first edition Thursday.

“We need to see districts apply this money to ensure that physical distance is available and possible in classrooms. “

A new provincial ad features Dr. Bonnie Henry as she explains to a small class of students what schooling will look like in the province. (BCGovNews / Twitter)

Students are expected to return to school on September 10 following what Henry said was a “substantial increase” in the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in British Columbia.

As of September 3, there were 1,175 active cases of coronavirus in the province, including 34 people in hospital and 11 of those in intensive care.

According to Caroline Colijn, a mathematician at Simon Fraser University, up to five percent of elementary schools and 25 percent of high schools could have an infectious case of COVID-19 on the first day of reopening.

Education Minister Rob Fleming says if a student tests positive for COVID-19, all members of their school cohort may be required to self-isolate for 14 days. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

Education Minister Rob Fleming said if a case of the virus was detected in a school, public health officials would take control of the situation, isolate the individual and begin contact tracing.

He said if a student had COVID-19 they would be removed from the building and parents and guardians would be notified. It’s possible, Fleming said, that an entire cohort, or a learning group, needs to self-isolate.

According to the provincial plan, elementary and middle school students will be grouped into cohorts of up to 60 students, while high school students will have up to 120.

“Anyone considered to have been part of an exhibition would be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days,” Fleming said on The first edition Friday.

To hear Terri Mooring’s full interview on The first edition, press here.
To hear Rob Fleming’s full interview on The first edition, press here.

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