Union applauds B.C. school restart delay but not all parents happy
VICTORIA -- Summer holidays just got a little bit longer for students in British Columbia and not all parents are happy about it.
The province announced Tuesday it plans to push back the start date for in-classroom learning.
Last month, the government laid out its plan for a full in-classroom return for most students starting on Sept 8.
However, there has been considerable pushback to that plan and its timing, including from school staff and teachers across the province.
Education Minister Rob Fleming confirmed Tuesday that students are not likely to be in the classroom on the original date.
“We see an advantage to having staff have a couple days, just in their learning teams, just in their school setting, before we welcome back kids in the first week on a phased re-entry,” Fleming told reporters.
Fleming did not specify what day exactly all students would be expected in the classroom, whether it would be that week or the following week.
That information is expected to be announced before Aug. 26, which is the date set by the government for school districts to provide families with final details about the return to school.
Some parents reacted with frustration to the shifting dates.
Michael Hachey says that while he prioritizes safety above all else, he hopes the change doesn’t reflect a lack of prior planning.
“I don’t even know what to say,” he told CTV News. "Just very disappointed, very surprised."
The delay was welcomed by Dean Coates, the president of the union that represents support workers in the Saanich school district.
He said that his union members, including bus drivers, custodians, clerical staff and educational assistants, worried a full return of staff, teachers and students on Sept. 8 would have been unrealistic and potentially unsafe.
“It’s a little too fast, too much, too soon,” Coates said of the initial plan. “I am pleased to hear that Minister Fleming has rethought that."
Another issue that remains contentious is masks in schools.
Ontario and Quebec have mandated masks for certain ages and places in schools, and Fleming indicated Tuesday that discussions about masks are ongoing.