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Updated: School start delayed for B.C. students: Minister of Education

Students are unlikely to be heading back to school on Sept. 8, despite what was previously announced by the B.C. government.
Education Ministry Rob Fleming was at Mitchell elementary a few weeks ago to announce upgrades to that school - on Wednesday, they announced more funding, this time for Manoah Steves elementary.

Students are unlikely to be heading back to school on Sept. 8, despite what was previously announced by the B.C. government.

The Minister of Education, Rob Fleming, said Tuesday afternoon that it's against health guidelines to allow students back into classes after Labour Day, like other years, and an announcement will come in a few days on details of schools reopening.

The Ministry of Education previously announced that most students would be back in classes after Labour Day but several groups, including the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Principals and Vice-Principals Association (BCPVPA), asked for the start to be delayed.

“Previously students would come back into class, usually with their previous year's teachers, and wait a few days for school to be organized for the coming school year,” Fleming said in the legislature. “We can't do that in a pandemic. That would not be in compliance with the BCCDC guidelines.”

Darren Danyluk, president of the BCPVPA, told the Richmond News if students and staff all arrive on Sept. 8, they won’t necessarily have been briefed in COVID-19-related safety protocols.

He added it could prove to be “very challenging” if there is no time before Sept. 8 to plan how to restart school during a pandemic.

“If we don’t get together as a team beforehand, how do (teachers) know their tasks, their roles,” Danyluk said.

The Richmond District Parents Association (RDPA) president Dionne McFie said they’ve heard many families are concerned about sending their kids back on Sept. 8. in groups of 60 or 120 and many have said they’d like to see a hybrid model for learning as an option.

“From what I’ve heard, there’s not a lot of support for going back,” McFie told the News on Monday before the minister’s announcement.

Fleming said the announcement coming in a few days will outline what Sept. 8 will be like for support staff, administration and teachers to make sure students are “organized into the classes where they will be with their peers in a unit that is designed to limit the student interactions.”

“If that takes some extra time and builds additional confidence and fulfils the guidelines that have been developed by Dr. Bonnie Henry and her team, that's what we're going to do in the province of British Columbia,” he added.