High School Masks
(photo via Unsplash)

Students, families, and teachers can expect a near-normal return to school in September.

In an announcement on Thursday, June 17th from Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education, she said students will be back in the classroom for fulltime in-person instruction, will no longer be grouped in cohorts, and will be allowed to participate in more extracurricular activities.

The province will also provide $43.6 million to support ongoing health and safety measures, First Nations and Métis students, mental health services, rapid response teams, and to address learning impacts to students.

$25.6 million of funding will be put towards a new one-time, pandemic-specific funding to support necessary cleaning and disinfecting, hand hygiene for students and staff, improve ventilation and restock supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE).

The province said this funding will strengthen the commitments to First Nations and Métis students and provide more mental health support for students and staff.

See also: BC School Districts will have control over how best to spend federal COVID-19 funding

An additional $12.1 million will be provided from the remaining 2020-21 school year operating grant, together with the $5.9 million allocated to tackle learning impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since vaccinations began for those aged 12 and over, 74.6% have received their first dose.

Dr. Bonnie Henry assured that transmission is rare in structured class environments and said that, by September, BC will be back to a much more normal school experience.

“B.C. is one of the few jurisdictions that has kept schools open all year despite the pandemic, thanks to the enormous collective efforts of everyone in the K-12 education system, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to them all,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education.

“We will continue to work with the experts in the provincial health office and our provincial K-12 education steering committee throughout the summer to finalize plans and guidelines to ensure students and staff are safe for the next school year.”

Here’s a breakdown of the one-time funding:

  • $14.4 million for health and safety, cleaning and supplies
  • $5 million to support First Nations students and build capacity within First Nations Education Steering Committee and Métis Nation BC
  • $5 million for mental health services
  • $1.2 million for independent schools

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