Back to school plan needs clarity

In just six weeks, school bells will ring across B.C.

Just how many students return to the classroom remains to be seen, mainly because nobody really knows how the ‘new normal,’ as they call it, is going to play out in the classroom.

The Ministry of Education has come out with a rudimentary sketch of the fall scenario, which includes enhanced safety measures and resources set in place to enable most children to return to class, as the province moves towards Stage 2 of B.C.’s Education Restart Plan.

Small cohorts of students – 60 in elementary, 120 in high school – will attend at any given time, making it easier for them to self-distance from teachers and other students. Online courses will supplement classroom lessons.

READ MORE: Parents divided over sending kids back to school: Poll

But it seems the full plan has been left up to individual school districts. Over the next few weeks, the Cariboo Chilcotin School District 27 will work with teachers and other unionized workers to hammer out the details as to how they plan to meet the Ministry of Education guidelines and ensure the safety of students and staff.

There’s no doubt they will do their best to protect the district’s 4,600 students and their teachers. But that could be weeks – leaving parents even less time to determine whether or not they even want to send their children to school or consider other options – if they even have that choice. Many will have to send their children to school yet they have yet to see the full picture of what that will look like.

Understandably, this plan will take time to hash out. But there needs to be some clarity from the province – and sooner rather than later. If we can get a haircut, or eat a meal in a restaurant, surely the province can come up with specific measures to get children back to school.

Deciding whether to send their children back to school is likely one of the toughest choices parents will have to make. They deserve to have all the answers before they do.

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