In-class instruction at Burnaby schools has been suspended indefinitely as part of a provincial effort to slow the spread of deadly COVID-19.
The province-wide measure, which applies to all public and private kindergarten-to-Grade 12 schools until further notice, was announced Tuesday by Education Minister Rob Fleming.
“We’re used to schools being safe places where kids learn and grow and socialize,” Fleming said, “but, as the global pandemic, COVID-19 is evolving quickly and is having a growing impact in British Columbia, we have to take action today to protect our students and staff to keep our schools safe.”
Fleming said the decision to suspend in-class instruction was made under the direction of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and supported by “all of the education partners, teachers and stakeholders in the system.”
He said schools will not be closed, but in-class instruction is suspended effective immediately.
Fleming said the ministry is urging schools and school districts to start planning now to ensure a “continuity of learning” while in-class instruction is shut down.
The ministry also expects school districts and independent schools to have plans in place for some level of service for the children of people who are performing essential services during the pandemic, like teachers, medical health professionals, first responders and pharmacists, Fleming said.
While in-class instruction has been suspended indefinitely, he said every students will get a final mark for the year and all students who are on track to move to the next grade will do so.
Graduation assessments will be postponed, but Fleming said everyone who is eligible to graduate will graduate, and the ministry is working with post-secondary institutions to ensure successful and smooth transitions.
“We don’t have all the answers today. We’re in a fast-moving situation,” Fleming said.
In a letter to parents Tuesday, Burnaby school district superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen said the district had been “actively preparing” for the possibility of a ban on in-class instruction and is exploring ways to support learning when the break is over on March 30.
“While we don’t have all the answers at this point, I can assure you that we are working hard to find solutions,” Niccoli-Moen said.
The district will continue to post the latest information on its website: www.burnabyschools.ca