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Reopening B.C. schools in June will help map fall return: premier

FILE - New guidelines for returning to school in B.C. include one student per seat on school buses, unless children are from the same house, with Plexiglass separating the bus driver from students. (iStock photo)

The premier says June's partial reopening of school is a dry run for the fall

Horgan says the common focus is to make sure everyone in the K-12 system is safe

He insists no one will be pressured to come back if they're not ready or don't feel safe

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Next month’s reopening of schools will be a dry run for September, according to Premier John Horgan.

Horgan said ensuring the safety of everyone in the system is key to opening schools again.

“Everyone is on the same page here. There’s apprehension, absolutely, among parents, among some teachers and among some support staff,” he said during a press conference Wednesday.

“But there is a common focus on making sure that we can reopen our K to 12 system in a way that’s safe and we would not be doing it if we did not have the approval of the public health officers and WorkSafeBC having a look at what the procedures are going to be to protect those people at work within the system.”

Horgan added he understands many teachers, parents and students are nervous about going back too soon, and said no one will have to return if they feel unsafe or they’re not ready.

Assurances reviews will be done over summer to address any concerns, he said.

“So each school district, each school for that matter, will have different configurations of how they’ll operate in June and that will inform how we prepare for September.”

“There will be innovation over the summer as people look at what the outcomes were through June and how we can improve upon that,” he said.

RELATED: Vancouver mother pushing province to reconsider school reopenings in June

While Horgan noted the province is working on a childcare network, he also rejected the idea schools are opening up to act as childcare facilities so parents can return to work.

“That’s not the role and function for K to 12 education. Is it a place your kids can be during the day? Absolutely, But let’s not confuse the two,” he says.

“We’re developing a child care network in B.C. because we desperately need it for our economy to be strong and for all people in BC to participate –men and women.”

However, Horgan admits the province’s plan for universal childcare for $10 a day has been halted during the pandemic, but he says the crisis is proof it’s still needed.

Schools will partially reopen June 1.