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'Schools can and should remain open': Minister says no plans to shut doors in B.C.

Last Updated Mar 12, 2020 at 7:16 pm PDT

Students in an art class. GETTY IMAGES/Caiaimage/Robert Daly

B.C. schools will remain open and any decision to close them will come from health officials, not school boards

Ontario has extended spring break until April 5 and Seattle-area schools are shut down for six weeks

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As schools in other jurisdictions close their doors as a precaution over COVID-19, B.C. schools remain open.

Friday is the last day of school before spring break, then the annual March holiday will leave public K-12 schools empty.

“I think a two week break in the school system is probably well-timed,” said Rob Fleming, B.C.’s education minister.

Right now he says the risk at B.C. schools is assessed as low by public health authorities.

“That advice right now is that schools can and should remain open.”

Ultimately, any decision to close schools will come from Dr. Bonnie Henry and provincial health officials.

“Health authorities are the ones who will direct school districts on what the appropriate course of action is, what precautions to take–including potentially school closures,” he explains.

“If a school district wishes to consider that, they need to work with the health authority to make sure that it is properly planned, to make sure that we’re tracking what the level of risk is, what the best practices are, and what the health response is that is required.”

Fleming says the advice to stay home if sick, avoid all unnecessary travel, and to self-isolate when circumstances demand should be followed by all students and staff. School districts throughout the province have taken the precaution of cancelling all international field trips.

The province of Ontario announced Thursday that all will close all publicly funded schools in the province for two weeks, extending the spring break until April 5.

Three counties in Washington state have closed schools for six weeks.