Classrooms around B.C., like this new middle school in Kelowna, are mostly empty as schools are under a health order to suspend most in-class instruction. (B.C. government)

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

As B.C. school districts begin providing in-school education for children of essential workers and those with special needs during the coronavirus pandemic, most parents are working out ways to proceed with home schooling.

The B.C. education ministry has added a new website called openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning that has guides and resources for parents. Its section on “everyday learning activities” was endorsed by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in her daily briefing March 30.

“So it is back to school in a virtual way for children in the province now,” Henry said. “We want and we need our children to continue to learn and to maintain those important social connections that they get through schooling, even though they’re apart.

“I encourage parents really to incorporate learning into everyday activities that you have these opportunities with your children now at home,” Henry said. “Things like writing emails, or texting or having virtual groups with your friends. Using the kitchen or the garden for science experiments, and using the new online resources for the education system to help out.”

Ministry suggestions for parents include writing daily letters to friends or relatives, similar to the daily messages teachers write to children about the day’s events. Food preparation is a popular option, as flour and sugar mills have stepped up production due to an increase in home baking.

“Have children search for recipes online, reading them to consider ingredients, preparation and difficulty,” says the everyday learning section. “Analyze ingredients in the house for nutrition, grams of protein, fibre, fat, sugar, calories, and develop a healthy food plan base on recommended daily allowances of each.”

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The education ministry recommends having children maintain their school routines as much as possible, including regular bedtimes, wake-up and getting dressed for school on weekdays.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said parents who are designated essential service workers should expect to hear from their schools by Friday, April 3 regarding child care options. Other parents should also be contacted this week by teachers.

“Schools will be doing their best to accommodate urgent child care needs while meeting the guidelines and directives of the provincial health officer,” Fleming said in a statement March 27.

“Since there are many students who will have challenges working online, schools have been directed to look at alternative approaches for continued learning that will fit with the individual needs and circumstances of their communities.”


@tomfletcherbc
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