The association representing more than 2,600 principals and vice-principals across British Columbia has called on the province to consider a flexible start date for students to return to school in the fall.
In a written statement dated Aug. 4, the BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association (BCPVPA) ask that the start date “be amended dependent upon the level of readiness in our schools.”
With much of school leadership usually away until mid-August, the group says its members are returning early to revise the needs of their schools.
Among many of the preparations, the statement notes staff are working on adjustments to timetables and the potential use of “alternate calendar models will require meticulous attention” to ensure consistency. That, says the group, will take time.
The call comes less than week after the province announced the full restart of school on Sept. 8, in which students will be grouped into cohorts or “learning groups” of no more than 60 students at the elementary and middle school level and no more than 120 at the high school level.
Yet the plan has faced criticism from the BC Teacher’s Federation as unrealistic, and BCTF president Teri Mooring has told the Tri-City News that the organization is looking for more time so that teachers can prepare and adjust their teaching to new health and safety guidelines.
The province’s principals and vice-principals appear to be siding with the BCTF’s call for flexibility even as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has stood by the school reopening plan.
“We hope that districts and government will recognize the many complexities of a school start-up, the work that has been done to date, the significant changes required, the need to communicate those changes to teachers and staff and the importance of taking the time to get it right,” reads the BCPVPA statement.
The association states that “We must all be realistic in assessing our progress in advance of the August 26 deadline for districts to issue their Restart Plans” and that “the concept of the learning groups may require additional explanation and development” so students, staff, families and schools can better understand the health and safety implications of the learning groups.
“There will be many questions and challenges ahead, but it is important that we do this work together,” read the statement.
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