ROTHENBURGER – B.C. needs to go back to the drawing boards on return-to-school plan

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE SCHOOL SYSTEM, and the B.C. government, have a real problem on their hands with the plan to open schools in the fall.

A petition against mandatory attendance by students has gained some 22,000 signatures already as parents worry about the safety of their kids. And the B.C. Teachers Federation is also unhappy about changes to the way learning will be designed.

According to Education Minister Rob Fleming, all students are expected to go to school. There won’t be a remote-learning option like there was in June, though he confuses things by saying home schooling or distance learning may be available.

Dr. Bonnie Henry is confident of the plan, saying physical distancing will still be in place (at least between so-called ‘cohorts’), and risks have to be weighed against the harm done when kids don’t connect with friends and teachers in the classroom.

Once again, she refuses to make masks mandatory, though they’ll be made available. She, too, confuses things by saying masks aren’t necessarily helpful in classroom settings. This, as the rest of us are being urged to wear them.

Under the plan, elementary students will be part of learning groups of up to 60, and those in higher grades up to 120. For some, there could be a hybrid of in-class and virtual learning.

This is a delicate balance: achieving the benefits of in-class instruction while keeping kids, teachers and staff as safe as possible. I say “as safe as possible” because we all know the risk of outbreaks exists, and may even be inevitable.

The petition contends the cohort plan is contrary to the concept of “fewer faces, bigger spaces.”

And, it points to other jurisdictions that have met success by installing plexiglass barriers at desks and requiring masks.

Sounds like Health Minister Adrian Dix, Fleming and Henry need to go back to the drawing boards on this one.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at


About Mel Rothenburger (8559 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on ROTHENBURGER – B.C. needs to go back to the drawing boards on return-to-school plan

  1. If it wasn’t real life, this would be comical on a scale that would reinvent Monty Python.

  2. I agree. Large vulnerable cohorts at school who go home at night to pick up the increasing stage 3 infections just get to spread those infections the next day at school. Contributing to this, Bonnie’s soft approach has just about run it’s course, and clearly has for the under 40 crowd. I like the mandatory mask approach. Let’s become a bit more Asian and get these new infections down where we had them before.

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