After more than two months away from schools, some Surrey students will be returning to their classrooms Monday (June 1) – albeit with a much different look.
The Ministry of Education suspended in-classroom instruction on March 16, just as spring break was starting. Since then, students have been learning through various forms of remote learning, while some – whose parents are essential service workers or those that have special needs – have still been going to school for childcare.
Starting Monday, elementary students will be going to school on alternating days, either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday. Students in kindergarten to Grade 5 will receive two days of instruction, while students in grades 6 and 7 will receive one day each.
High school students, meantime, are following a “tutorial model” where they can sign up through a set schedule of times and “receive face-to-face support from their teachers.” The district says that will add up to the equivalent of one day.
On Wednesdays, the “vast majority” will be working from home along with their teachers, according to the school district.
Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney said in a letter Friday (May 29), that “timelines were extremely tight, but the majority of our schools should have their timetable posted on the web for you.”
Tinney added that there are other “new routines to get used to,” such as “much smaller” class sizes, sitting further apart, regular hand washing when moving throughout the school,daily health checks for staff and students, some materials will not be available to students, constant reminders about physical distancing and parents or vistors will not be allowed into the building “in the usual ways.”
“For parents, all of these things, and the normal routines that you see in grocery stores when you are out and about, those are the types of things your children will now see in schools,” Tinney noted in his letter. “All of us have a role to play and it’s about all of us doing our part. This truly is the next phase in our ‘new normal’ and many of the things you are seeing now, likely will be in place in September.
Tinney said he has had “many people ask me why we are opening now.”
He said he knows of “three main reasons:” because the schools and communities “are making progress on battling COVID-19; because “children need us”; and because “we will continue to live in a pandemic and need to begin to transition to September, to walk into the halls and classrooms of our schools, and to not just hear that it’s safe, but to feel and experience it as well.”
Tinney reiterated that the choice to send individual students back to school is up to parents.
“Whether you remain at home or whether you come in, we will be here for you,” he said. “In schools, it will not be perfect on day (one). We have never done this before, and this is our first opportunity to see how many children arrive and just how we will structure what is a new chapter for us.”