(File Photo)

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) says in a statement that the province’s back-to-school COVID-19 restart plan “needs more time and a lot more work” for it to be successful.

The plan, announced at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, has been criticized by the BCTF as rushed and missing key components.

The BC Government has been working towards a plan to bring students back into the classroom since June.

On June 25 Minister of Education Rob Fleming announced the appointment of a steering committee and working groups to implement best practices on school restarts.

The BCTF says that they have two representatives on the steering committee and 25 active classroom teachers who are involved in the working groups.

“A lot of excellent work has already gone into the restart planning by the steering committee and working groups, but this announcement misses the mark on several critical components and should go back to those working groups,” said BCTF President Teri Mooring.

“Based on what the government released today, their plan isn’t ready yet. It needs more work.”

Some key concerns that the BCTF says the government needs to address are:

  • Authentic consultation and collaboration at the local level between school districts and local unions.
  • Health and safety measures in place and tested before staff return to the school site and before students return to class.
  • Time in September for teachers to plan, prepare, and undertake the necessary in-service training and health and safety orientations to enable equitable learning conditions and safe workplaces.
  • Smaller classes to ensure all of the children, youth, and adults that share school spaces can adhere to the physical distancing protocols everyone has been asked to maintain during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • More clarity around the proposed “cohort model” and how that will keep teachers safe while ensuring students still get their full education.

See also: Most K-12 students will return to in-class instruction in B.C. this September

Mooring says that the BCTF has been pleased by the government providing more funding to improve cleaning, hire more staff, and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to all teachers and staff who need or want it.

No representative from the BCTF was present at today’s announcement from the BC Government on the back-to-school restart plan.

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