Classes have been suspended for K to 12 schools in Langley, as well as for post secondary programs at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Trinity Western University.
Premier John Horgan announced on Tuesday morning that classes would be suspended indefinitely to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Students were already on spring break at the time of the announcement, but their time off will be extended past the previous March 30th mark.
The news comes as the province has four deaths and more than 100 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Gatherings of 50 or more people have been banned and health officials are telling people to stay in Canada. On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadians to “stay home” if at all possible.
Lisa Drozda, a resident of Langley Township, had to abruptly cancel her family’s 16-day trip to Japan that was several years in the making as a result of the coronavirus.
She said she was able to get most of the flights, accommodations, and tours refunded, but said the cancellation is still certainly a disappointment.
“We want to try and get it going again in the next couple years – we had an international student who had stayed with us and we want to visit them and their family,” she said.
Now her two daughters – ages 10 and 12 – are without class and without spring break plans. Drozda said her family decided to self-isolate at a family-owned trailer in Parksville on Vancouver Island.
“We hopped on the ferry – stayed in our car of course – and have been socially isolating on the beach. It’s pretty good,” Drozda assured.
READ MORE: B.C. to suspend K-12 schools due to COVID-19
Her daughters have been keeping busy collecting shells and driftwood for painting projects. One daughter made Kraft Dinner for the first time the other night – turning the turbulent time into what she called a life skill session.
But as holiday time winds down, Drozda said her daughters will be getting an education, even if classes aren’t in session.
“I work part time and right now my husband is working from home. With distance learning, we’ll keep them up with that. I’ve bought curriculum books from Costco and they’ll read a few chapter books. I’m not too worried about it,” Drozda explained.
“My daughter has a speech project for school and I told her to just keep working on her speech because you never know when classes will start up again,” she added.
It’s a different story for other families who weren’t prepared for closures; with many public facilities shuttered and outings discouraged, some parents could be scrambling for more time off work to care for their kids after spring break ends.
Daycares are currently not closed, but Premier Horgan said in a Tuesday conference that it could likely change.
Education Minister Rob Fleming said that some schools will act as emergency child care spaces for kids of essential workers so health care and front line workers are not pulled away from responding to the novel coronavirus.
Post-secondary classes cancelled
Trinity Western University (TWU) announced that in-person classes would be suspended effective Tuesday, March 17, and replaced with online classes wherever possible for the next two weeks.
TWU’s facilities in Bellingham and Richmond have also suspended in-person classes, while daily chapel services offered by the christian university, will also be delivered online and via podcasts.
In an online statement, TWU assured students living in on-campus housing may choose to return home or to remain in residence – students who remain on campus will be well supported while the physical campus will remain open.
TWU additionally said they have rescheduled their upcoming spring graduation ceremony – set to be held on April 25— to now take place in combination with fall graduation on November 7.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) said, effective March 17, KPU will pause in-person instruction until further notice; except in the Faculty of Trades and Technology, and Horticulture Levels 1 and 4.
Alan Davis, president and vice chancellor of the post secondary school, said due to the technical and hands-on nature of those programs, in-person instruction will continue, but proper social distancing measures will be in effect in the classrooms, shops and labs.
All KPU campuses will remain open, including all libraries and services functioning at their regular hours.
“Dr. Florkowski and KPU Provost Dr. Sandy Vanderburgh have been working with our deans to develop a plan to transition from face-to-face instruction for the remainder of the semester,” Davis added in the statement.
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