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 ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.