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Some B.C. schools prepare for possible return to remote learning

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS1130 photo)

Some B.C. schools are preparing for the possibility of returning to remote learning in the new year

There are no current plans for districts to return to virtual learning, but some schools readying just in case

Southern Ontario students are being told to prepare for possible shift to remote learning after winter break

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Some school districts in B.C. are getting ready for the possible return to remote learning, as COVID-19 cases continue to pop up throughout the system.

There’s been no indication of that shift to the hybrid model of online and in-class learning happening in B.C. from the province just yet. However, that’s not stopping some school districts, like the one in New Westminster, from preparing for a return to Stage 3, just in case, according to reports.

Karim Hachlaf, the superintendent of schools, tells the New Westminster Record, “This is not to alarm the community.”

“I’m not expecting us to go backwards in the new year,” he’s quoted by the local paper as saying, adding he just wants to assure community members the district is ready for that shift if needed.

This comes after students in Langley were told by their district last month to prepare for the possibility of remote learning as COVID-19 cases continued to rise.

Langley Schools had said it was learning from colleagues in neighbouring districts where class and school closures were taking place. The district wrote that it wanted the community to be ready for potential delays come January.

“At this point, while these measures only remain a possibility, we are doing our best to be proactive and will continue to update the community as information is made available,” the letter, dated Nov. 24, reads.

Earlier this month, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry assured there were no plans to begin the winter break early, despite some calls to do so. While the possibility had been considered, Henry had previously said that a number of factors needed to be considered, such as the impact on working families.

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Just last week, we heard from the BC Teachers’ Federation president who said the union had not been consulted about the ultimate decision to not begin the winter break early, after Henry told reporters she consulted with many stakeholders and found no rationale for changing the schedule.

The BCTF said the province’s COVID steering committee, made of parents, teachers, and support staff, was also not included in discussions.

The minister of education has since responded, saying “education partners” were consulted, just not formally at the steering committee.

Meanwhile, in southern Ontario, students are being told they may have to shift to online learning in the new year after winter break ends. Students have been asked to bring learning materials home for the holidays that they may need should classes go virtual in 2021.