School was back in session in June at Lynn Fripps Elementary and other locations, but the whole district is expected to open up this September. (Langley School District)

Many questions for Langley teachers as return to school approaches

Immune-compromised teachers are among those waiting to hear about plans

Langley’s teachers are still waiting for clarity on what their return to the classroom will look like, after the provincial government announced two days of staff orientation before students ultimately return.

“There’s a lot of questions right now, not a lot of answers,” said Tanya Kerr, president of the Langley Teachers Association (LTA).

One question is what will happen to teachers who have compromised immune systems.

A few have already spoken to the LTA about being unwilling to return to the classroom while the COVID-19 pandemic is still underway. Cases have risen in recent weeks and are averaging more than 40 a day in B.C. for the first time in months.

“They definitely will not be able to return to schools, or they’ll be putting their own health at risk,” said Kerr.

Because the province wants to fully open schools, rather than have a hybrid school/home learning model, there will be no opportunities for those teachers to work from their homes or otherwise remain isolated, Kerr said.

Plans could change if enough parents are reluctant to send their students to school, Kerr noted.

READ MORE: Teachers get two extra days to prepare for students’ return

But if kids aren’t enrolled, that could also cause a financial impact for the school districts, which receive provincial funding based on enrolment. Fewer kids could mean less money, which could mean layoffs, said Kerr.

Teachers, like parents and students, are going to be waiting until Aug. 26 for more details on exactly how the return to school will work.

The provincial Ministry of Education originally announced a Sept. 8 return to school, with a plan for cohorts of 60 people (students and teachers) in elementary grades and up to 120 in high schools.

“The cohort thing is still a bit of a mystery,” said Kerr.

The exact implementation of cohorts, how they will remain separate, and how they will be organized, will likely be part of the district’s Aug. 26 update.

Teachers at the secondary level are also waiting to hear how classes will be arranged – in two semesters, or possibly even in a quarterly system, to make the cohorts easier to handle, Kerr said.

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