June 25, 2020
As we come to the end of an unprecedented school year and enter summer break, we want to
acknowledge and thank you for your extraordinary efforts over the past several months.
We commend and appreciate the dedication families, teachers, support staff, education leaders
and school districts have shown since March 17, 2020, when government made the difficult
decision to suspend in-class learning. Teachers quickly embraced new and innovative ways to
engage students, adapting their entire curriculum for Zoom and other digital platforms while
offering additional resources to students who need them.
We want to acknowledge the incredible job families have done working with educators to
support your children through so much uncertainty. Some of you also had to learn alongside your
kids — becoming familiar with new remote learning tools and supporting their education in ways
you may never have before. Balancing your child’s learning with other responsibilities has
required you to make sacrifices. We know it has not always been easy.
We have also heard from many of you regarding the start of the 2020/21 school year in
September. We know you are concerned with the health and safety of your children and with
ensuring your children continue to learn and thrive in a dynamic education environment, and that
you have questions on both of these fronts.
When we expanded in-class learning on June 1, almost 200,000 students returned to the
classroom. During this critical four-week period, we have heard tremendously positive stories
from parents, students and educators. Students have jumped back into their schoolwork, enjoying
the chance to see their friends and teachers again in person. Throughout this process, educators
have been responsible for ensuring that health and safety standards are strictly followed. These
include greater space between desks, minimal physical contact, hand hygiene, respiratory
etiquette, cleaning of high-contact surfaces twice a day and clear protocols for drop-offs and
lunch and recess breaks, to name only a few.
All British Columbians have done their part to help flatten the curve. We have learned much
over this past month that will help us be better prepared for September.
We know you are wondering what the return to school will look like in September. Our goal is to
have even more students in class in September, as long as it is safe to do so based on the advice
of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. It is important you know that we are prepared for
several return to school scenarios based on how the situation evolves over the summer and the
science-based advice of Dr. Henry. More information is available in our year end news release
published today, June 25th.
The Ministry of Education has developed a five-stage approach to operate schools depending on
the risk of transmission of COVID-19. We would encourage you to familiarize yourself with this
five-stage approach if you have not already done so, as it provides a useful framework for
understanding what the September restart will look like under different circumstances of
COVID-19 transmission in our province. Schools have plans in place for each stage, while also
ensuring that they will remain flexible if changes are needed in the event of a second wave. We
are also paying close attention to similar sized global jurisdictions like New Zealand and
Denmark and using their lessons and experiences to inform our decisions.
We are working very closely with all our education partners to ensure that our back-to-school
plan for September supports students, teachers and staff throughout British Columbia. This work
with our partners will continue, without pause, into the summer. We know there is no substitute
for in-class instruction and as we continue to take steps toward recovery, it is important that we
get kids back into the classroom to the greatest extent that it is safe to do so.
While recognizing that the situation in our province is constantly evolving, we understand that in
these highly uncertain times, parents, children and families are looking for certainty. You can
expect further communication from the Ministry in the coming weeks and months on what to
expect for September. We know that you and your family want to be prepared for fall learning,
and our commitment to communicate openly with you about the collective challenges we are
facing remains constant.
British Columbia is on the right track, and we have tremendous experience from our time in
schools this June, but there is still much more that we must do. We are so grateful and heartened
by the resilience and strength you and your families have demonstrated throughout this crisis
already. Remember, this is not forever; this is just for now. We will overcome this by working
We send our warmest wishes for a safe and happy summer and look forward to seeing you in the