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COVID-19: Prince George schools working on ways to continue studies as B.C. issues indefinite suspension

Teachers expected to return on March 30 unless quarantined
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School District 57 (SD57) supports Prince George and regional schools. (via Jess Fedigan)

In-class instruction at Prince George schools (SD57) has been suspended indefinitely as part of a provincial effort to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The province-wide measure, which applies to all public and private kindergarten-to-Grade 12 schools until further notice, was announced this afternoon (March 17) by B.C.’s Education Minister Rob Fleming.

“We’re used to schools being safe places where kids learn and grow and socialize,” Fleming said, “but, as the global pandemic, COVID-19 is evolving quickly and is having a growing impact in British Columbia, we have to take action today to protect our students and staff to keep our schools safe.”

Fleming said the decision to suspend in-class instruction was made under the direction of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and supported by “all of the education partners, teachers and stakeholders in the system.”

He said schools will not be closed, but in-class instruction is suspended effective immediately.

Fleming said the ministry is urging schools and school districts to start planning now to ensure a “continuity of learning” while in-class instruction is shut down.

SD57 says it’s other districts and the Education Ministry to plan for continued studies as the situation unfolds.

"Right now, I know that there are more questions than answers (myself included) and the situation is developing rapidly," said Board Chair Tim Bennett in a social media post.

Prince George students are currently on Spring Break for two weeks, but staff are expected to return to work on March 30, ‘unless they are subject to a 14-day isolation or quarantine period.’ 

While in-class instruction has been suspended indefinitely, he said every students will get a final mark for the year and all students who are on track to move to the next grade will do so.

Graduation assessments will be postponed, but Fleming said everyone who is eligible to graduate will graduate, and the ministry is working with post-secondary institutions to ensure successful and smooth transitions.

“We don’t have all the answers today. We’re in a fast-moving situation,” Fleming said.

SD57 says it’ll continue to update parents and students via its website, as well as its social media outlets.

It's neighbouring district, SD91-Nechako Lakes, will be suspended as of tomorrow (March 18).

- with files from Cornelia Naylor, Burnaby Now