Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health (Colin Smith Takes Pics)

The BC government has announced that the full reopening of K-12 schools will be delayed by a week after the winter holidays.

According to health officials, it’s hoped that the additional time away will give teachers more time to implement safety measures.

During a live press today conference, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said the goal of these new measures is to keep kids at school for the remainder of the year.

All K-12 school staff will be returning to schools next week as originally planned. A full return to school for students in kindergarten to Grade 12 will be delayed until Monday, January 10th.

“Schools have safety protocols in place that have kept students and staff in school over the past two years, but as the pandemic changes, our protocols must change, too,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.

“That’s why schools will be implementing enhanced public-health measures to ensure we can continue the in-person learning that is so important for well-being and mental health.”

Additionally, Whiteside said that the schools will open January 4th for children of health care workers and those who have special needs.

The delayed start will give teachers time to assess the impact of Omicron in community and in education system.

Schools will no longer have in-person assemblies and extra curricular sports will be paused.

School staff meetings are to be conduced virtually.

When in-class resumes, K-12 schools must reinforce existing safety measures, including:

  •  Using all available space to maximize space between people: For example, different common space, classroom and learning environment configurations (e.g., avoid face-to-face seating arrangements where possible)
  • Everyone able to wear a mask
  • Doing daily health checks, and staying home when sick
  • K-12 public and independent schools must also implement enhanced safety measures, such as: Implement strategies that prevent crowding during class transition times
  • Hold school gatherings and events (e.g., assemblies, etc.) virtually. If they must be in-person, limit the number of people to no more than 50% operating capacity
  • Hold staff-only gatherings (e.g., meetings, professional development activities) virtually whenever possible.
  • Limit visitors to those who are supporting activities that directly benefit student learning and well-being (e.g., teacher candidates, immunizers, meal program volunteers, etc.)
  • Pause extracurricular sports tournaments

In addition to above announcement, BC health officials released the latest COVID-19 numbers reporting 2,944 new cases over the past 24 hours.

Active cases of COVID-19 have nearly doubled in BC since Christmas Eve with most being the Omicron variant.

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