Back to school? - The Orca

Back to school?

Jody w Glasses 1

Jody Vance: When classrooms do open back up, it’s going to be different. Parents should try and roll with the punches – kids are resilient.

As we approach the 50 day mark of our COVID-19 lockdown, the back to school debate remains red hot.

On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the province is preparing for a possible gradual return to in-class learning, with the priority being kids whose parents are up next to head back to work once restrictions start to ease.

The timeline is not yet worked out, but with our new case numbers hitting below those pre-lockdown on March 17th, there is room to be hopeful.

Education Minister Rob Fleming maintains “British Columbia would continue to be guided by science.” I applaud that statement. It cuts to the chase on where we actually are, today, in this crazy time. This is not political, it’s not even economically driven, but driven by science.

Today’s Middle urges stressed parents to try and tune out the naysayers and trolls. Kids are resilient – they’re gonna be okay. So hang in there. Don’t get distracted from the fact that our school system will eventually re-open with health and safety at the forefront.

BC’s overall COVID-19 response has been remarkably successful, thanks to our collective buy-in to the directives laid down by Dr. Henry. This has, quite simply, saved an untold number of lives. Now’s the time for unity and collective commitment. Help by showing your kids how in times of struggle, we pick up the rope and pull in the same direction.

Over the last few weeks we’ve heard many perspectives. Some are rolling with it, doing their best to simply maintain the current level of their student. Others are freaking out, unable to continue to learn at an in-school pace. To the latter, please try to give yourself a break. This is not forever; it’s just for now.

Let me point out a couple of things.

The big one is that all our kids (and us!) are learning every second of this era of COVID-19. With that in mind, let’s try to take a beat as we try to digest coming changes in these next phase(s) of our new normal.

Regardless of where your kids fall on the age range things will be anything but typical right now. There may be no summer break. When they do go back, there will likely be staggered class times that could potentially see your kids in school in evenings rather than classic school hours.

How kids are instructed will definitely vary. Primary school students are tougher to train to maintain physical distancing — imagine that kindergarten class?! While middle school and high school will also experience school differently, they are more likely to take new health measures in stride. Assigned seating, much smaller classes, handwashing stations and best practices repeated constantly…they will adapt. They’ll have to.

Each age group will be managed differently, and have unique COVID school experiences. But across the board, health and safety protocols are key.

It’s also worth pointing out that kids are the lowest risk for COVID-19 infection and transmission. (Learn more about that here.) If the risk were higher, we would not be entertaining a return to class.

So parents, please ignore the random YouTuber dressed in scrubs telling you some tin-foil sparked conspiracy theory. It has quite literally never been more important to read up on the facts, from reputable sources, and be informed. Focusing on the science and data, putting health and safety at the forefronts on all fronts – that’s how we will get through this together and rebuild what COVID-19 has taken from us.

Dr. Henry has navigated us through incredibly turbulent and frightening waters these last 50 days. We trusted her when she said to shut down schools. I say we should keep trusting her.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.