The B.C. back to school plan is incomplete and needs to be revised, and quickly.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen parents divided about the plan. A majority seems to want to see their kids back in school full time, and is comfortable with the “learning groups” plans and the safety precautions.
But a large minority isn’t happy with it. The reasons are understandable.
After being told “fewer faces, bigger spaces” by Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry for months, kids are now going to be grouped together in cohorts of 60 for elementary school and 120 for secondary school.
Which means that a two-child family will now suddenly be in a “bubble” with between 120 and 240 others, unless they’re lucky enough to have both kids in the same group.
In Surrey, those numbers look a little different. The district announced earlier this month that cohorts for both elementary and secondary students would be significantly smaller than those recommended by the province.
And that’s good, because bigger spaces are also unlikely. Desks can move apart only so far. With B.C.’s typical fall weather, outdoor schooling will be a viable option for about three or four weeks, at best, before the rain drives everyone inside.
We’ve been assured that kids with compromised immune systems can stay home and learn from there. But what about kids with an elderly relative at home? Or a parent with health problems? Is a family with four children, all in different cohorts, just a big infection risk?
The B.C. government needs to offer more options to parents and students. To do that, it needs to support districts and teachers, and it needs to reassure parents.
We can return to school in September. But a one-size-fits-all garment is never comfortable.
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