Begbie View elementary students physically distance on the first day back to school on June 1 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Revelstoke students to return to school this fall

A surge of coronavirus cases in the fall could possibly foil these plans

Revelstoke students are expected to return to the classroom full time this September.

On July 29, Education Minister Rob Fleming and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry unveiled the province’s education plan amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with Sept. 8 as the return-to-school date.

Students will be organized into “learning groups,” made up of a consistent group of staff and students in order to reduce the risk of transmission. Kids will also be assigned to groups of up to 60 for younger grades and 120 for high school.

Staff and students will also be required to assess themselves daily for symptoms of the novel coronavirus. If any student or staff member has even mild symptoms, they will be told to stay home.

Revelstoke’s Superintendent Mike Hooker welcomed the news.

”It is certainly great news that we can now plan for all students and staff to be back after Labour Day.”

He said the schools will send detailed information out to parents and students in late August once staff has had the opportunity to work through the new comprehensive guidelines.

Hooker said having school return in June not only got students to reconnect with teachers but allowed staff to learn how to work together in these new conditions.

Schools in B.C. shuttered doors in March as daily case counts began to increase, requiring parents to home-school their kids. By June, students could return to some in-class instruction, of which 80 per cent of elementary and 40 per cent of high school students returned in Revelstoke.

READ MORE: Revelstoke schools reopen

B.C.’s top doctor said that she knows how important in-class schooling is for children’s mental health.

“We ask for families and workplaces to continue to be flexible as we come into the fall,” Henry said.

“We’ve put a lot of thoughtful work and consideration into reopening schools this fall and in making sure we’re supporting children in ways that keep them, the people who teach them and our communities safe.”

In a statement, the B.C. Teachers Federation said the plan needs “more time and work” before rolling out – specifically through consultation with school districts and local unions.

“If the plan is rushed or too many questions are left unanswered, it won’t be successful,” it read in part. “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.”

Health officials and political leaders have acknowledged that a surge of coronavirus cases in the fall – dubbed the second wave – could possibly foil these plans.

READ MORE: Premier wants parents to have Plan B if COVID-19 disrupts September school plans

Written with files from Ashley Wadhwani.

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