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Schools should open when they are ready and not earlier, say B.C.’s principals, vice principals

Last Updated Aug 6, 2020 at 6:53 am PDT

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B.C.'s principals, vice principals are asking the province for a flexible return to school date

School administrators are not confident in reopening readiness come September

'Major complexities' require flexibility in return to school plans, says principals' association

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s principals and vice principals are asking the province to consider a flexible return to school date, saying there are “major complexities” associated with a safe re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In reviewing the plan, we ask that government consider a flexible start date for students to return for the Fall school year, to be amended dependent upon the level of readiness in our schools,” says the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association (BCPVPA).

“While our BCPVPA members are technically away from their schools until the middle of August, we acknowledge that many are now reviewing the revised needs of their school communities, and resuming their work after only a short summer break.”

Districts are required to submit detailed reopening plans to the province by Aug. 26 and BCPVPA members have returned to work early in some cases to work out details of timetables, student cohort learning groups and classroom use. However, the association says there’s not a lot of time to prepare.

“The staff members that we support and lead as under the proposed plan, their first day of Fall employment on September 8 will find them in place with their students, with little preparation time for a new and challenging year,” reads the statement.

“We hope that districts and government will recognize the many complexities of a school start-up, the work that has been done to date, the significant changes required, the need to communicate those changes to teachers and staff,” adding the group’s members need time to get things right.

The group is also asking the province to clarify exactly how student cohorts will work to keep people safe from COVID-19 spread.

“We believe that the concept of the learning groups may require additional explanation and development in order for students, staff, families, and school communities to better understand the health and safety implications of those cohorts,” says the statement.

The BCPVPA says it supports the province’s plan overall but wants clarity, support and a commitment to a flexible return date to allow for all schools to fully prepare to support families and students through a stressful fall semester.

“There will be many questions and challenges ahead, but it is important that we do this work together.”

Read the full statement below: