Students in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will not be heading to class on Sept. 8.
The start of the school year has been delayed by the province to give teachers more time to prepare for what classes will look like with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing.
B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming made the announcement Tuesday Aug. 11, and said a formal statement about back to school would be released in about a week.
The delay is “much needed” said Maple Ridge Teacher’s Association president Trevor Takasaki.
“We’re revamping everything. We’re rescheduling everything. The district has enormous amounts of change that has to happen to make this work,” explained Takasaki about the upcoming school year.
Teachers, he said, have to learn a whole new system and are going to a whole new schedule that is going to take a lot of adjustment and a lot of learning before they see their students.
Additionally, Takasaki noted, just because the students will be starting school later, doesn’t mean the teachers will be starting later as well.
“They are going to be working at a mad rush to just learn the new system – organization, how the traffic flow in the school will work,” he said.
There are so many logistical considerations that the teachers will have to familiarize themselves with before students start their year, added Takasaki.
Then they will have to teach the new system to the students.
“Because the more effective we can be at the beginning of the year, of course, it sets the tone for the whole year,” said Takasaki.
Chris Schultz-Lorentzen, on the District Parent Advisory Council executive, said they are still digesting the information.
One of their main concerns, he said, is for those parents, who, will not be physically sending their child to school in September.
Their only option is to register their child outside of their school community, said Schultz-Lorentzen.
The council is hoping that stipulations or requirements can be made for them so that every effort is made not to take their children out of their catchment school registration.
If by some miracle January comes and everything is all clear, he said, those parents who chose not to send their children to school full-time for health reasons due to COVID-19, will have spots saved for them to return physically to the classroom.
“We want to make sure that there is something in place for the next year at least,” he said.
For some parents the delay will be a relief, added Schultz-Lorentzen, but for others, who need to arrange for child care or take time off work, it will be a challenge.
“Either way you slice it, whether it’s a early September start date or whether it gets pushed back, we’re always going to have a number of parents who wish it was the other way around,” he said.
But to him, personally, it is a relief.
“I think we’re rushing this and I think in the long term, I think it’s a good idea,” added Schultz-Lorentzen.
“But I’m just hoping for those parents who are counting on that early September return that we have something in place for them as well,” he said.