B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming, centre, talks with Grade 7 teacher Lisa Galway as students return to part-time classes as he tours Monterey Middle School and in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming, centre, talks with Grade 7 teacher Lisa Galway as students return to part-time classes as he tours Monterey Middle School and in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. teachers’ union: June’s hybrid learning ‘not sustainable’, new plan needed for fall

Officials are expecting to see a mix of in-class and online learning in September

The head of the union representing B.C.’s teachers said although there have been positives with how the voluntary June 1 school restart has gone, it’s not a sustainable model for the longterm.

“It’s been extraordinarily challenging,” B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said Tuesday (June 16).

“Part of the challenge has been for teachers balancing the remote learning that most students are still engaging in with in-class learning.”

According to the education ministry, about 30 per cent of students returned – part time – to classrooms in the first week of June. School was initially suspended after spring break in March as B.C. brought in a multitude of rules and restrictions in an attempt to try to control the spread of COVID-19. Speaking earlier this week, Dr. Bonnie Henry said there were no known cases of the novel coronavirus spread in schools since June 1.

READ MORE: 157,000 students returned for part-time lessons at B.C.’s schools

While the system is not ideal, Mooring was quick to point out that the past few months have been an emergency situation.

“We never would have designed anything like this [otherwise],” she said.

“When we went to remote learning, it was overnight; one day we were in schools, and the next day practically, we were doing remote learning.”

Despite the difficulties in teachers having both in-class and online instruction, Mooring said bringing some students back to school has been beneficial.

“We have a lot of vulnerable learners in our system and remote learning doesn’t work for them,” Mooring said.

“This whole remote learning and everything we’re doing right now really does sort of differentiate between students who are in a more privileged situation and those students who are more vulnerable.”

Some students have been dealing with food insecurity and housing insecurity, Mooring said, as well as possible unemployment in the family and just a general lack of certainty amid a pandemic. But despite the availability of in-class instructions – Mooring said if a student needs to, they can come in every day – some of those who need it most aren’t returning.

Part of that is the challenge of getting to school, since some districts have not restarted their school bus programs. But for others, teachers simply don’t know.

“It’s hard to know if they’re okay. And that’s extremely stressful.”

READ MORE: ‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Mooring said while normal, in-class instruction would be ideal from an education perspective, teachers are working under the assumption that fall will bring with it a hybrid learning model. The BCTF is working with the province to create a committee to plan for the fall that’s more sustainable than the June re-start has been.

Mooring said the talks have been going well with the province and have been different in tone than the bargaining the union and the NDP have been engaged with almost since the last election.

“There has been a very high level of cooperation and communication,” she said, adding that it’s been a relief to teachers scrambling to make the best of an emergency situation.

Part of conversations about September will need to include hiring more staff, she noted.

“So that one teacher is not doing both the in-class learning and the remote learning.”

Some teachers will also not be able to return for personal health reasons, while those that do will need access to personal protective equipment – and the same will apply to students.

“We can’t let social inequity determine whether a student who wants to wear PPE gets to or not.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusEducationSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Sidney staff have cleaned up unknown number of screws dumped along Resthaven Drive. (Black Press Media File)
Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read