The Ministry of Education and Superintendents of several school districts in B.C. have released some more details on what the K-12 school year will look like come September.
According to Deputy Minister of Education Scott MacDonald, all 60 school districts in B.C. have finalized their back-to-school plan amid the pandemic, all of which have been approved. The province is in the process of reviewing an additional 75 plans submitted by private schools.
As announced earlier this month and last month, K-12 students in B.C. will be going back to classrooms in a cohort-based system, with each person having contact with a set number of other students and staff for the duration of the school year.
The province expects to have 100 per cent of elementary and middle school students return to classrooms this fall, with 60 people in each cohort.
Secondary schools across the province have moved away from the linear eight classes-per day instruction model as this would require students and staff to have more than 120 contacts per day.
According to MacDonald, most schools have switched to a quarter system through which students take two classes for each quarter of the year, while some have switched to an eight semester system in which students only take one class at a time, further limiting in-person contacts.
While elementary and middle school students will all return to classrooms for full-time in-class instruction within their 60-person learning groups, timetables for secondary school students are more complicated.
Students on track to graduate have different course options specifically geared towards their future in post-secondary education.
Out of the 60 school districts in B.C., 40 have created plans that allow them to accommodate all secondary students, while the remaining 20 have devised a blended learning model that combines online and in-class instruction.
One of the districts to use a blended model is Saanich School District 63.
Across Saanich schools, students in grades 9 through 12 will take two courses for a period of 10 weeks, before switching.
These students will be divided into blocks. The morning block will meet every day for in-person instruction while students in the afternoon block take online classes on alternate days.
According to Superintendent Dave Eberwein, students in Saanich secondary schools will be attending classrooms approximately 75 per cent of the time.
The province is encouraging parents and guardians who wish to access remote, online learning options to contact their school districts to discuss options.
Students returning to classrooms will not be required to physical distance when they are within their cohorts or learning groups.
When in hallways or buses and interacting with people from outside their cohorts, students and staff will be required to wear a non-medical face mask. The province will provide two masks per person through funding announced last month.
In July, B.C. announced $45.6 million in funding for schools to purchase PPE, hire more staff and implement COVID-19 safety plans.
On Wednesday morning, the federal government announced a total of $2 billion in funding for schools across Canada.
B.C. has been allocated $242.36 million out of this amount. The province is currently deliberating on how best to distribute that funding.