Students will be returning to in-classroom instruction in B.C. through a phased approach that will be guided by the Ministry of Education and the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In an announcement on Tuesday, education Minister Rob Fleming pointed to jurisdictions like New Zealand — where students will be returning to school tomorrow — as places that authorities in B.C. are watching to guide their approach to how more students will eventually be allowed back in classrooms.

The province has not announced a concrete date for when schools across B.C. can reopen to a larger number of students, unlike places like Quebec where students will return to classrooms by mid-May.

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According to Minister Fleming, jurisdictions that have set a date on when to resume in-class instruction have done so before developing a health and protocol framework to guide a phased re-opening. “I think that’s backwards,” said Fleming.

Currently, several thousand students — mainly elementary school children of essential service workers, and vulnerable students who need more support — are attending in-person classes in school.

In answering questions during prior briefings, Dr. Bonnie Henry has alluded to the fact that schools in B.C. are looking at accepting more students before the end of the school year through a hybrid approach.

Some students, particularly older children, may stick to virtual learning. Some students could attend classes on some days while others would go in on different days to minimize the number of people in the building at any given time.

Parents may go back to work on a modified schedule that allows them to look after their kids. The province is looking at ways to trial these methods in the coming weeks.

At the moment, school districts’ teachers and staff have some Personal Protective Equipment that they use in a non-mandatory way while working with the few students who currently require in-class instruction.

Minister Fleming says that authorities are looking at plans to acquire more PPE and possibly make their use mandatory when developing their health and safety protocol in planning for greater numbers of students.

As of today, the majority of K-12 students in B.C. have been out of school for 42 days, since March 17th.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 3,118,589.

Over 212,200 people have died from the illness and 947,126 have made a full recovery.