B.C. premier John Horgan says preliminary discussions are underway to discuss how officials would “potentially” reopen schools, but that decision depends on how the number of COVID-19 cases change in coming weeks.
During a news conference on Wednesday (April 15), Horgan was asked when he will start to look at easing current pandemic restrictions, including the reopening of public and private schools.
He said the province would only allow kids back into classrooms if health officials were to see a downward trend in the number of daily positive cases.
“But I look at my colleagues across the country who’ve set arbitrary dates for a return before the data was in, before the science was confirming that, and we’re not going to follow that lead,” he said. “We’re going to look at the numbers as they emerge over the weeks ahead before we make those determinations.”
B.C. suspended in-class learning in mid-March with advice from health officials who were seeing a growing number of COVID-19 cases being confirmed. Similar measures were taken in other provinces, such as Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, where a majority of Canadians who have tested positive for the virus reside.
But since then, Quebec Premier François Legault has said that schools could reopen before the planned May 4 date. That comes despite that province seeing the most confirmed COVID-19 cases of any region in the country – a total of 14,860 as of April 16.
Ontario, where there has been a total of 8,447 confirmed cases, announced this week it wouldn’t be reopening as it hoped to by May 4. This is the second time the province pushed the date back due to the pandemic.
In the meantime, B.C.’s education ministry has been working to get virtual learning onboarded across every school district.
“We’ve seen some really good success, and, again, a level of collaboration between educators, superintendents, school board trustees, parents, children – the whole continuum of components of our K to 12 system working cooperatively to try and find a way forward through this virtual period,” Horgan said.
Earlier this week, B.C. extended its ongoing provincial state of emergency for another 14 days. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has told the public to expect at least some of the social contact restrictions to stay in place for awhile.
“We’re not anywhere near the end of what we’re going to do with this, and normal is going to look quite different for some time,” she said during a separate news conference.