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Racism a 'teachable moment' for B.C. schools: education minister

Last Updated Jun 2, 2020 at 3:25 pm PDT

FILE - Education Minster Rob Fleming. (Courtesy B.C. Government)

Province looking to strengthen the curriculum around multicultural history, black community in B.C.

About a third of students -- or 60,000 -- and 90 per cent of teachers returned to classrooms as school resumed Monday

Education minister expect hybrid teaching model to continue in fall

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — As B.C. students return to classrooms this week in an unusual way — during an unusual time — the province is working to ensure the events south of the border are on the agenda.

It’s not just battles against racism raging across the U.S., but also an increase in racist attacks on this side of the border that Education Minister Rob Fleming said make it a worthy subject.

“A lot of kids are coming back to school and they’re interested in resuming learning of various subjects, but a lot of them are really interested in talking about current events, including what we’re seeing in the United States right now and the demonstrations in solidarity that we’ve seen in Canada,” he said.

“I’ve written a letter to the B.C. Black History Association to make this, if you will, a teachable moment, how we can strengthen the curriculum ties to learn about the multicultural history and including the history of the black community in British Columbia.”

Thousands of people stood in absolute silence with their fists in the air at a protest against racism and police brutality Sunday evening at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The demonstration was called in solidarity with protests that have spread across the U.S. in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and to demand action against racism in Canada.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Police Department has reported a “staggering” increase in the number of hate-related and anti-Asian crimes in the city this year.

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About a third of students — or 60,000 — and 90 per cent of teachers returned to classrooms as school resumed Monday after closing in March due to the pandemic.

The highest number of students who returned were in Grade 6, at 48 per cent, while 15 per cent of those in Grade 12 went back to class Monday.

The return to school is voluntary and part-time.

Fleming said teachers are using a hybrid model of online and in-class instruction.

He expects that to continue in the fall.

“I think what you’ve heard Dr. Bonnie Henry and other officials in government and my ministry talk about is to be prepared for all contingencies. It’s likely that we will have to have a hybrid system again until we have a vaccine, until the pandemic is officially over in this part of the world and around the globe,” Fleming said.

“I think that June, a partial return, a gradual reintroduction of in-class instruction, sets us up really nicely for September,” he added.

“It’s likely that we will have a situation, in terms of if we flattened the curve, but we have to prepare for a second wave in British Columbia. We have to prepare to be able to move forward as we have done this Monday and move backwards when we get into the fall and winter.”