VANCOUVER -- A total of 157,000 school children, around thirty per cent of B.C.'s total students, returned to B.C. schools the week of June 1, the Ministry of Education reported Sunday.

On June 2, a day after school started back up, the ministry reported that around 60,000 students had returned.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, schools had been closed since mid-March, and school districts had replaced in-class learning with online instruction.

But starting June 1, parents had the option of sending kids back to school or continuing with online learning. While some school districts conducted surveys to see which students intended to return, others did not, and the expected number of returning students was unknown prior to the resumption of classes.

Students who did return to school went back to a very different environment than the one they left on March 13, the day before spring break started and the last day of in-school instruction for most B.C. students before the COVID-19 school closures.

Students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 attend school two days a week, while students in grades 6 to 12 attend one day a week. Students are attending classrooms that look different, with desks spaced wide apart to reduce physical contact.

Classroom density has been reduced to 50 per cent for grades 6 to 12 and to 20 per cent for Kindergarten to Grade 5, although those percentages are targets only.

Earlier this week, B.C.'s education minister said that when school starts in September, students will likely not return full-time, but do a mix of in-class and online learning.

“It’s likely that we will have to have a hybrid system again,” said Rob Fleming.

With files from The Canadian Press.