B.C. Should Reconsider Sending Students Back to School This Fall
In the midst of COVID-19, students are asked to go back to “in-school instruction” where wearing masks in the classroom will be a choice
Opinions / August 19, 2020
The government of B.C. has decided to go back to in-school instruction in the fall, a decision which has elicited a lot of concern from many people. There will, however, be some changes to the way that kids are taught in September.
One of the biggest changes is the introduction of “learning groups”. The size of each learning group will be 60 students for elementary and middle school and 120 for high school. This allows classes to limit their interactions to only certain people.
Wearing masks will not be mandatory for elementary school students. Two masks will be provided to every student and staff member in September, and they will be required in high traffic areas, however students will have the choice to wear them inside the classroom. This is very surprising, as Quebec and Alberta are making the use of masks mandatory for older students.
The government also states that parents have the choice to sign up their kids for online learning. There are limited spaces, which means that not everyone will be able to get a spot.
Many people are concerned that this lack of spots will be a big problem for students that are immunocompromised or students who have parents that are high risk. Social distancing will be required, but there are doubts about how effective this can be.
Adults are having a hard time social distancing, and expecting kids and teenagers to adhere to these rules doesn’t make much sense. This will also give teachers more work since they will be the ones who have to make sure that they follow the rules.
Yes, teenagers are apparently not responsible enough to stay home alone, but they are expected to know how to conduct themselves safely in a building full of hundreds of other students.
Since quarantine began, we have seen how many people are not following the advice that we’ve been given in order to keep ourselves and others safe, so it seems like a huge responsibility to put on kids.
A petition has been circulating with more than thirty thousand signatures asking the government to reconsider making the return to school mandatory until a time where there are clear guidelines and proper safety infrastructure. Having classes at full capacity seems like a recipe for disaster. We still do not know enough about the virus and how it affects different people, including kids.
The government of B.C.’s plan has fallen short. There doesn’t seem to be convincing evidence that their guidelines and safety measures will prove to be effective in protecting the public. There’s nothing concrete that can make parents and other citizens feel that this is anything more than a way to get kids to go back to school so parents can go back to work.
It seems more like an experiment with minimal chances of success. We already see a rise of COVID cases in B.C., mostly from adults not participating in social distancing, so it seems like the wrong time to roll the dice and hope that everything turns out just fine.