Back-to-school time during a pandemic is not like other years. (Stock photo)

Editorial: Back-to-school during COVID-19 an all-new lesson

Throughout the pandemic, public health officials have tried to manage risk; here’s the next one

Any new school year brings unknowns for students, whether they’ve been dreading back-to-school, excited about it or a little bit of both.

This year’s fall-semester blank slate, however, is not like other years.

Students, parents, teachers, school support staff and administrators are probably experiencing some unfamiliar sentiments about back-to-school this month. All of us have a stake and could reasonably have concerns, as spread of COVID-19 in school corridors will surely make its way elsewhere.

The B.C. government received criticism this week for new back-to-school ads showing provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at the head of the class, teaching a physically distanced group of students the three Bs: Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe.

“It is an unrealistic depiction of what schools will look like,” said the B.C. Teachers’ Federation president, arguing that small groups and physical distancing isn’t the ministry’s plan.

‘Learning groups’ of students will number 60 to 120; class sizes will be the same as other years; cohorts will show cracks; bubbles will pop. Based on what we know or remember from our school days, it seems a stretch that the kind of physical distancing that’s expected nowadays can possibly happen in classrooms, corridors and in the school yard. At the same time, those are the places where we know life learning happens, where friendships are made, where school communities and connections are created that kids deserve to experience.

Health and safety best practices have changed a little bit as the pandemic has progressed. We saw one version of back-to-school this past June, though attendance was relatively low and remote learning happened in ways that won’t be an option for students this semester.

This new back-to-school will have fuller classrooms and the government is counting on the ability of all involved to keep the facilities clean and make an effort to maintain physical and social distance. B.C., like all the other jurisdictions setting out on a fall semester, has to make some of this up as it goes along in unprecedented times.

Provincial health officials have demonstrated to us that they’ve been ‘modelling’ the pandemic’s spread, and have managed risk, and here’s the next one.

B.C.’s back-to-school plan is only going to work if everyone is willing to learn how to make it work. There are going to be hard lessons, but we have dedicated teachers and staff and we have bright kids.

B.C.’s back-to-school plan: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/covid-19-return-to-school

School District 68’s restart plan: https://www.sd68.bc.ca/covid-19/

RELATED: SD68 high school students to take two classes each day

RELATED: Independent schools in Nanaimo create their own back-to-school plans



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusEducation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Woodgrove Centre posts plans to make masks and temperature checks mandatory

Mall advises in letter to customers that rules will come into effect Monday, Sept. 21

Protesters march in Nanaimo, calling for greater protection of forests and watersheds

March for the Forests happened downtown on Friday afternoon

After testing, Island Health deems water safe around industrial fire site

Concerns about water quality arose after Sept. 10-11 fire at Schnitzer facility in Cassidy

Nanaimo residents ticketed for putting out garbage bins the night before pickup

Conservation officers say they issued seven tickets this week, as warnings weren’t having an impact

Motor home burns up at north Nanaimo intersection

No one hurt in incident Friday morning at old Island Highway, Rutherford Road and Mostar Road

Accused in Makayla Chang’s murder sees next court date in October

Steven Michael Bacon faces first-degree murder charge in killing of Nanaimo teen

Regional District of Nanaimo looks to create its own flag

Staff created makeshift flag earlier this year for a conference that ended up getting cancelled

Nanaimo senior defrauded out of $14,000 in ‘grandson scam’

80-year-old victim was told her grandson was out-of-province and in legal trouble

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Conservation officers free fawn stuck in fence in Nanaimo

Fawn was uninjured after getting caught in fence in Hammond Bay area Wednesday

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

One person dead in two-vehicle accident in North Island

Highway 19A was closed for several hours north of Courtenay following the crash

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Most Read