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Return to school leaves B.C. parents, teachers anxious without more details

Last Updated Jul 29, 2020 at 5:28 pm PDT


Teachers, parents say they're anxious about the fall semester without more details on operations

Some worry how children will be kept a safe distance apart and wonder what classrooms will look like

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Teachers and parents admit they are anxious ahead of a full return to school in September since many details still haven’t been fleshed out.

B.C. announced Wednesday students will be returning to the classroom full-time in the fall. Students and teachers will be assigned to cohorts, small learning groups, they will stay with during the school year.

BC Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring is demanding “more authentic consultation and collaboration” before classes resume. Mooring says the restart plan needs more time and work to be successful and keep everyone safe.

RELATED: B.C. students to return to school full-time in September

“If the plan is rushed or too many questions are left unanswered, it won’t be successful. Bringing everyone back all at once, even with some version of a cohort model, on the first day after the Labour Day long weekend, is too much too soon given the many unanswered questions in today’s announcement,” Mooring says in a statement.

She’s not alone.

Parents and teachers say they’re worried about strained learning conditions at a time when the coronavirus may still be highly active and keeping children a safe distance apart is difficult

Erin Tarbuck is a teacher at Vancouver’s David Thompson Secondary, which has adopted a new semester system, and wants to know what schools will really look like in the fall.

“What is this going to look like in the classrooms? You know, we’re planners. What exactly do we plan for? Like, what am I walking into?” she says. “One thing that I was really hoping for, honestly, and I think a lot of teachers were, was some time to adjust. June is often when we do a lot of our planning for the fall and obviously, we didn’t get that opportunity this year.”

Tarbuck says she is a concerned mom of four kids in the system, including three with special needs.

“I think it’s always a challenge to meet their needs, given underfunding, number one. I really struggled as a parent with my own children during the pandemic and making sure their needs were met, it was really, really hit or miss. There was very little physical distancing going on in schools that I saw.”

While she says she is pleased to hear planning will be flexible heading into September, she doesn’t believe masks should be mandatory and isn’t sure how physical distancing between children will be maintained.

The province’s return-to-school plan also includes $45.6 million in funding to support school districts and independent schools, including $23 million to hire more staff and for cleaning schools.