B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming washes up during a visit to a Victoria middle school for the reopening of part-time classroom instruction, June 2, 2020. (B.C. government photo)

Lots to learn in COVID-19 orientation week for B.C. schools

Schools step up ventilation, expand to outdoor spaces

Different entrances, different bells and different organization of courses will give students in B.C. schools a lot to get used to as B.C. resumes in-class education in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students return Sept. 10 after two days of staff orientation for the procedures and equipment that have been put in place. Education Minister Rob Fleming says the schools are prepared with improved ventilation, hand sanitizing and in some cases outdoor spaces for breaks and instruction. School districts have been contacting families to prepare them for changes to create learning groups and provide masks for riding buses and navigating hallways.

“I know as a parent I’ve been getting all kinds of emails from the school principal about which entrances and exits your student must use, and staggered start times,” Fleming told CFAX radio in Victoria Sept. 8. “So there’s a lot to absorb. Washing your hands, using portable hand sanitizing stations, paying attention to the bell schedules because they’re different for different students, staying in your learning group, physically distancing wherever possible, both in the classroom and especially in common areas, and wearing a mask if you’re a middle or secondary student who is needing to practice physical distancing outside of the learning group.”

RELATED: B.C. schools create learning groups for COVID-19

RELATED: Return to B.C. schools delayed for orientation

Federal and provincial funds specific to COVID-19 preparations are being used in some districts to set up tents and outdoor structures. The extra money can also be used to cover higher heating bills that will come in as indoor ventilation is maximized and cooler weather sets in. B.C. school heating systems have been fitted with specialized filters to clear air.

If a coronavirus case is suspected, designated on-site staff isolate the student or staff member, and regional public health authorities are the “de facto medical health officers” for each school district they serve, Fleming said. Once a case is confirmed by testing, public health investigators contact everyone who may have been exposed to the infected person.

“We definitely hope we’re not going to see that, but we have 1,600 schools in B.C. and we need to be prepared in case we do see that,” Fleming said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay police seek suspect who broke into liquor store on Cadboro Bay Road

The incident happened at 2:50 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17

MISSING: VicPD seeks 33-year-old man last heard from in August

Scott Grier could have been travelling in Alberta, police say

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Vancouver’s shuttered aquarium searching for financial solution amid pandemic

The aquarium needs about $1 million a month to cover its costs

B.C., Alberta sending nearly 300 fire personnel by Friday to help battle wildfires in Oregon

Some 230 firefighters, most from British Columbia but including a number from Alberta, will be deployed Friday

B.C. to begin publicly listing COVID-19 school exposure events

Move follows weeks of criticism from parents, the public

Most Read