As COVID-19 cases rise across the province, the B.C. government has delayed the start of the school year for most students.
Children with special needs and children of health care workers will return on January 3 or 4 as planned, but everyone else will go back on January 10 – a week later than initially scheduled.
Teachers and school staff are expected to be back in class next week.
The delay will give the province time to better assess the effects of the Omicron version and develop better safeguards for return to orbit.
“The pandemic is changing as we know it but the education system is agile and strong. Our efforts are really focused on reducing disruption and absenteeism,” B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said at Wednesday’s briefing.
“Taking a few extra days now we are setting our schools off to the best possible start.”
COVID-19: BC to reopen schools amid Omicron boom
Measures will include staggered starts and other equipment to allow more effective contact tracing.
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School staff will be required to host staff meetings virtually, and in-person assemblies and extra-curricular sports tournaments are being organized.
The province will not offer virtual options for most students as the plan is to end the school year with in-person learning.
Union calls for late return to class, booster shots a priority for BC teachers
The union, representing about 46,000 teachers in B.C., called on the province to delay withdrawal and to prioritize booster shots to all school workers.
Terry Mooring, president of the British Columbia Teachers Federation, told Global News that he asked the government to move classes online until at least January 10 to assess the impact of the Omicron version on staff and students.
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