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Staggered restart announcements leaves schools, parents scrambling

Schools and parents are scrambling in the fallout of yesterday’s announcement from the BC government that schools will not reopen as usual next week.

Public schools across the province will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4 as planned, however, not all children will be allowed back to class.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said schools will be open to a limited amount of students. In Wednesday’s announcement, Henry said students whose parents are “essential workers” and students with “exceptional needs” will be able to return on Jan. 4.

But the government’s Safe Schools website says “School districts will contact parents to arrange a return to school for:

  • Students whose parents work in the health care system
  • Students with exceptional needs
  • All other students will return to school on Jan. 10.

Parents have taken to social media asking for more information or clarification. School districts on the Island say they will be updating parents and students over the coming days.

“Students with special needs and children of essential service workers will be able to access space in schools starting Tuesday, January 4,” said School District 68 in a statement.

“Please do not contact your child’s school at this time. We will provide further details on the return to school plan in the coming days.”

The province says the staggered restart will allow for schools to put in safety protocols with limited students.

“This extra time will allow the Ministry of Education and public health to better understand the impact of the Omicron variant on the education system, and school communities to prepare for students returning to class with enhanced safety measures,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education.

Vista Radio has reached out to Cowichan Valley and Comox Valley school districts but has not yet received a response.

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