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Some North Van teachers wary of district direction as B.C. unveils back-to-school plan

Last Updated May 15, 2020 at 10:47 am PDT

(iStock photo)
Summary

North Vancouver School District has sent out memo to staff saying they could be welcomed back as early as next week

Plan for partial in-person schooling opportunities in B.C. to start June 1

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Students in B.C. will be allowed to return to class as early as June 1.

The province has laid out its plans to expand in-class instruction, allowing students the option to get back to school or continue learning online amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement was made Friday morning, however, at least one school district has reached out to staff to say they’ll be welcome back as early as next week.

“We will be working closely with Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S), Facilities and Maintenance, school administration, and staff to ensure a thoughtful process of return,” North Vancouver School District Supt. Mark Pearmain says in a memo sent to staff on Thursday. “As we engage in the transition process to in-person instruction, we would welcome staff on a voluntary basis to start coming to work in their schools over the next week.”

Superintendent Memo to Staff_05142020 (002)

A number of teachers tell NEWS 1130 they’re confused and concerned about the direction, adding they’re stressed about in-class instruction resuming in June. One teacher even admits they’re not interested in going back to the classroom at all, saying they’re “too scared.”

Meanwhile, many parents have the same feelings and wonder exactly how schools will be able to balance online and in-class instruction.

Students have been learning from home for more than a month now, after schools were closed following Spring Break.

The North Vancouver School District says there are many reasons to start phasing in classroom instruction before the end of the school year, adding “schools play a critical role in the success of BC’s Restart Plan.”

“The decision to start re-opening schools is not taken lightly,” the memo reads, with Pearmin earlier stating, “I cannot stress enough that the decisions we make around planning for a return to in-class instruction first and foremost prioritize the health and safety of our employees.”

The letter also points to lower COVID-19 infection rates and milder symptoms for children, and “no conclusive evidence that children who are asymptomatic pose a risk to other children or to adults.”

The district has outlined steps being taken with each school to “ensure a safe and healthy” environment for both students and staff. Measures being taken include daily screening for those entering the school, routine and frequent cleaning, a “strong focus on the daily routine of frequent washing of hands and other hygiene practices,” as well as smaller class sizes, distancing between desks, rotating attendance on a routine basis, and staggered start times.