B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming, centre, talks with Grade 7 teacher Lisa Galway as students return to part-time classes as he tours Monterey Middle School and in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. teachers’ union: June’s hybrid learning ‘not sustainable’, new plan needed for fall

Officials are expecting to see a mix of in-class and online learning in September

The head of the union representing B.C.’s teachers said although there have been positives with how the voluntary June 1 school restart has gone, it’s not a sustainable model for the longterm.

“It’s been extraordinarily challenging,” B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said Tuesday (June 16).

“Part of the challenge has been for teachers balancing the remote learning that most students are still engaging in with in-class learning.”

According to the education ministry, about 30 per cent of students returned – part time – to classrooms in the first week of June. School was initially suspended after spring break in March as B.C. brought in a multitude of rules and restrictions in an attempt to try to control the spread of COVID-19. Speaking earlier this week, Dr. Bonnie Henry said there were no known cases of the novel coronavirus spread in schools since June 1.

READ MORE: 157,000 students returned for part-time lessons at B.C.’s schools

While the system is not ideal, Mooring was quick to point out that the past few months have been an emergency situation.

“We never would have designed anything like this [otherwise],” she said.

“When we went to remote learning, it was overnight; one day we were in schools, and the next day practically, we were doing remote learning.”

Despite the difficulties in teachers having both in-class and online instruction, Mooring said bringing some students back to school has been beneficial.

“We have a lot of vulnerable learners in our system and remote learning doesn’t work for them,” Mooring said.

“This whole remote learning and everything we’re doing right now really does sort of differentiate between students who are in a more privileged situation and those students who are more vulnerable.”

Some students have been dealing with food insecurity and housing insecurity, Mooring said, as well as possible unemployment in the family and just a general lack of certainty amid a pandemic. But despite the availability of in-class instructions – Mooring said if a student needs to, they can come in every day – some of those who need it most aren’t returning.

Part of that is the challenge of getting to school, since some districts have not restarted their school bus programs. But for others, teachers simply don’t know.

“It’s hard to know if they’re okay. And that’s extremely stressful.”

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

Mooring said while normal, in-class instruction would be ideal from an education perspective, teachers are working under the assumption that fall will bring with it a hybrid learning model. The BCTF is working with the province to create a committee to plan for the fall that’s more sustainable than the June re-start has been.

Mooring said the talks have been going well with the province and have been different in tone than the bargaining the union and the NDP have been engaged with almost since the last election.

“There has been a very high level of cooperation and communication,” she said, adding that it’s been a relief to teachers scrambling to make the best of an emergency situation.

Part of conversations about September will need to include hiring more staff, she noted.

“So that one teacher is not doing both the in-class learning and the remote learning.”

Some teachers will also not be able to return for personal health reasons, while those that do will need access to personal protective equipment – and the same will apply to students.

“We can’t let social inequity determine whether a student who wants to wear PPE gets to or not.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusEducationSchools

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

Just Posted

Grand Forks nets $3.6M to upgrade Eastside reservoir

Necessary upgrades for the facility were identified nearly 10 years ago

Christina Lake fire department christens new boat

The department leveraged its members’ skills to repurpose a former recreational pontoon boat

Gun enthusiasts arrive in Kelowna for the Western Canadian Skeet Championship

The competition will be held from July 17-19, 2020 in Joe Rich

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Commercial huckleberry harvesting restricted in Kootenays

The province of B.C. has banned commercial-scale picking from July 15 to October 15

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read