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March 17, 2020

COVID-19 update: What happens after Spring Break?

Dear colleagues,

As you no doubt already know, all in-school classes across BC are suspended at the direction of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. This is absolutely the right decision to help keep teachers, students, school staff, and all our families safe in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BCTF is already hard at work with the Ministry of Education to get more information as decisions are made to develop some frameworks, and do some initial planning based on the science and in the public interest. There is a high level of co-operation between government and the BCTF, and it’s important that right now, with public schools on Spring Break, that the Federation take this time to work together with government to help make wise decisions that will keep everyone safe and help flatten the curve of viral spread.

All teachers in the province, regardless of different school calendars are on Spring Break, some as of tomorrow. Everyone should take this time to spend with family and loved ones, and to keep each other safe and healthy. There is no expectation that teachers are working on plans for returning to work. There will be time provided for collaborative planning upon your return from the break. There will be no rush.

As events unfold and plans develop, we will be communicating with you as promptly as possible and as often as needed. For now, we are respectfully requesting that members try to be patient, avoid speculation, and only share verified information.

Here’s what we know today.

- No matter what day Spring Break is set to end in your school district, in-person classes will not resume after the various breaks. Again, this is absolutely the right decision to help protect all of us in the education community.

- Teachers will return to work after Spring Break. No one knows exactly what that will look like, but there is time to sort that out by working co-operatively with Ministry and district representatives.

- We have confirmed that contract teachers will not lose pay. Information specific to TTOCs will be out as soon as we get further information from the federal government on changes to make it easier and quicker to access Employment Insurance.

- The Ministry of Education will clarify what happens to grades, assessments, and graduation. The Minister of Education stated that all students on track for graduation will graduate. Details around all these issues are being examined and information will be sent when it is available. The Ministry staff are also working with the post-secondary sector to make admissions for Grade 12 graduates go as smoothly as possible.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Of course, you still have lots of questions. We do too.

Please be assured that your Federation is doing all it can to support you, advocate for you, and keep you informed.

In these uncertain times don’t forget that in order to help others, teachers need to take care of themselves. We have your backs.

In solidarity,

Teri Mooring

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