Thousands sign petition to make in-class learning in B.C. optional for September
A teacher setting up a physically distanced classroom in B.C. in May, 2020.
VANCOUVER -- Less than a week after B.C. announced its back-to-school plan for the fall, thousands have signed an online petition calling on the province to make in-class learning optional.
On Wednesday, B.C.'s education minister and Dr. Bonnie Henry announced most students will return to school for full-time, in-class learning after Labour Day.
But some parents and teachers have spoken out about the plan, saying there isn't enough time to ensure it's rolled out safely.
"The government is pressuring our kids to go back to school even though it is still unsafe as COVID-19 cases are increasing consistently on a daily basis," the online petition, which had more than 3,600 signatures by Monday afternoon, says.
Part of the province's plan includes placing students in "learning groups" to limit the number of people they come in contact with. For elementary and middle school students, those groups won't be larger than 60. For high school students, the maximum learning group size is 120.
When the plan was announced, Minister of Education Rob Fleming said specific guidelines and plans will soon be released for immunocompromised students.
But the petition says each family should be free to make their own decision of whether to send their kids to class.
"Each household should be allowed to exercise their own right to make the decision to return, based on their family circumstances to ensure what is the most appropriate and safe measure for the members of their own family," the petition says.
"In-class instructions should remain voluntary until there are clear evidence-based plans, guidelines, measures, enforcement and infrastructure in place for our schools to ensure that all people involved – our kids, the staff, and their families – can be safe."
Parents were told last week that families will hear from schools throughout the summer with updated health and safety guidelines and with their learning groups and schedules. Final details will be posted online on Aug. 26.