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Education Minister pumps brakes on start of school year in BC

Education Minister Rob Fleming announced Tuesday that students will not be heading back to class on September 8th due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools in BC open in BC on September 8th.

There just won’t be any students in classrooms.

Education Minister Rob Fleming made the announcement Tuesday in Victoria, suggesting a phased-in approach for students coming in September.

"If we have to use that first week of school to get it right, and districts are saying, 'look, we need some time with our local administrative teams on the ground,' that's a conversation that's happening at the steering committee,” Fleming said.

The Education Minister said more details will be coming soon, but the initial approach appears to have teachers and staff heading back to schools on September 8 with students delayed to a future date.

"If it takes some extra time and builds additional confidence and fulfils the guidelines that have been developed by Dr. Bonnie Henry and her team, that's what we're going to do," Fleming added.

Earlier this summer the provincial government announced that classes would resume after the Labour Day weekend across B.C. for students from kindergarten through Grade 12.

However,  the B.C. Teachers' Federation was not totally on board with the start play, saying  more time was needed to address concerns around returning to work in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BCTF president Teri Mooring said a plan is necessary to assist teachers in delivering a safe learning environment marked with new health and safety protocols.

"How they enter the building, how they exit the building, the process for going to the washroom, classroom things like the physical distancing measures, not sharing supplies – there's a lot for students to grapple with here and so that whole process needs to be really carefully done," Mooring said.

In July the provincial government announced its plan to bring K-12 students back to school starting September 8, 2020 with Stage 2, with students organized into learning groups, a consistent group of staff and students that would reduce the number of people students or the staff member would come into contact with, reducing the transmission and ensuring faster contact tracing should anyone contract COVID-19.