Letter to Parents
June 25, 2020
As we come to the end of an unprecedented school year and enter summer break, we wanted to acknowledge and thank you for your extraordinary efforts over the past several months.
We commend and appreciate the dedication families, teachers, support staff, education leaders and school districts have shown since March 17, when government made the difficult decision to suspend in-class learning. Teachers quickly embraced new and innovative ways to engage students, adapting their entire curriculum for Zoom and other digital platforms while offering additional resources to students who need them.
We want to acknowledge the incredible job families have done working with educators to support your children through so much uncertainty. Some of you also had to learn alongside your kids — becoming familiar with new remote learning tools and supporting their education in ways you may never have before. Balancing your child’s learning with other responsibilities has required you to make sacrifices. We know it hasn’t always been easy.
We have also heard from many of you regarding the start of the 2020/2021 school year in September. We know you are concerned with the health and safety of your children and with ensuring your children continue to learn and thrive in a dynamic education environment, and that you have questions on both of these fronts.
When we expanded in-class learning on June 1, almost 200,000 students returned to the classroom. During this critical four-week period, we’ve heard tremendously positive stories from parents, students and educators. Students have jumped back into their schoolwork, enjoying the chance to see their friends and teachers again in person. Throughout this process, educators have been responsible for ensuring that health and safety standards are strictly followed. These include greater space between desks, minimal physical contact, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, cleaning of high-contact surfaces twice a day and clear protocols for drop-offs and lunch and recess breaks, to name only a few.
All British Columbians have done their part to help flatten the curve. We have learned much over this past month that will help us be better prepared for September.
We know you are wondering what the return to school will look like in September. Our goal is to have even more students in class in September, as long as it is safe to do so based on the
advice of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. But it is absolutely critical you know that we are prepared for several return to school scenarios based on how the situation evolves over the summer and the science-based advice of Dr. Henry. More information is available in our year end news release published today, June 25th.
The Ministry of Education has developed a five-stage approach to operate schools depending on the risk of transmission of COVID-19. We would encourage you to familiarize yourself with this five-stage approach if you have not already done so, as it provides a useful framework for understanding what the September restart will look like under different circumstances of COVID-19 transmission in our province. Schools have plans in place for each stage, while also ensuring that they will remain flexible if changes are needed in the event of a second wave. We are also paying close attention to similar sized global jurisdictions like New Zealand and Denmark and using their lessons and experiences to inform our decisions.
We are working very closely with all our education partners to ensure that our back-to-school plan for September supports students, teachers and staff throughout B.C. This work with our partners will continue, without pause, into the summer. We know there is no substitute for in-class instruction and as we continue to take steps toward recovery, it’s important that we get kids back into the classroom to the greatest extent that it is safe to do so.
While recognizing that the situation in our Province is constantly evolving, we understand that in these highly uncertain times, parents, children and families are looking for certainty. You can expect further communication from the Ministry in the coming weeks and months on what to expect for September. We know that you and your family want to be prepared for fall learning, and our commitment to communicate openly with you about the collective challenges we are facing remains constant.
B.C. is on the right track, and we have tremendous experience from our time in schools this June. But there is still much more that we must do. We are so grateful and heartened by the resilience and strength you and your families have demonstrated throughout this crisis already. Remember, this is not forever; this is just for now. And we will overcome this by working together.
We send our warmest wishes for a safe and happy summer and look forward to seeing you in the fall.
Minister of Education
Andrea Sinclair, President,
BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils