B.C. teachers back at work, but online learning still weeks away
VANCOUVER -- Spring break is over, but with regular in-class instruction suspended indefinitely at all B.C. public and private schools, the vast majority of K-12 students won’t be going back to school anytime soon.
“Teachers are back at work and they’re doing some really important work right now, they’re doing a lot of planning,” said B.C. Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring. “As you can imagine, none of us have been in this situation before and so careful planning needs to happen.”
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Parents and students should hear from their teachers by phone or email at some point this week, but don’t expect any at home school work just yet.
“What we’re looking at is rolling out learning whatever that looks like, in some cases online in some cases it won’t be online, it’ll look different. And so that will happen mid-April,” said Mooring.
The President of the B.C. School Trustees Association Stephanie Higginson says distance learning plans will differ from district to district, even from teacher to teacher.
“The reason it can’t be one provincial program is because of those differences across B.C.," said Higginson. “It’s not just about the age of the child, its also about the options the family has. If you’ve got two parents working from home right now and one computer in the house, then its gonna be a fight for that computer. Some people don’t even have connectivity to their homes. So there’s a lot of reason this can’t just be online.”
Not every student will be learning at home. Some children of first responders and front line health care workers returned to class today at select schools in 19 school districts across the Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.
“Because that’s where 85 per cent of the cases of the virus are. And those are the places where there is concern there is gonna be a high draw on hospitals there and that care needs to be provided. It will roll out provincially we’re looking at April 6th for that,” said Mooring. Teachers also qualify for the emergency in-class care if they don’t have any other options for their kids.
As for when or if other K-12 students will return to the classroom this school year, the education ministry is targeting the end of April for a re-assessment.
“And we really have to take it step by step here,” said Mooring. “We can’t speculate about what’s going to happen in the future, and we can’t make any assumptions.”
‘That is the million dollar question,” said Higginson. A parent herself, she’s assuming her two boys will be home through the summer. “Let’s plan for this to be the long haul, and if we’re fortunate to get through it in a shorter time span, I think everyone would be relieved to have that routine back.”