COVID-19 Info Centre

Phase 3 optional return to in-class instruction: what you need to know

On June 1st schools across BC will transition into phase 3 of the Education Restart Plan. Every family will have the option to decide whether they’d like to send their kids for this voluntary, partial return to in-class instruction, or whether they’d like to continue with remote learning through the last few weeks of the school year.

But we know you have many of questions. We’ve provided you with answers to them here, and we’ll continue to add to this as we go.

Do I have to send my kids back?
No. Every family will decide what’s right for their children. We know you have a lot on your plate right now and every family is juggling their own set of issues – educational, child care, work and otherwise. Some students may require the additional support that face-to-face instruction can provide. Others may be better off continuing their learning from home (for a variety of reasons.) Do what is right for you and your kids.

Are schools safe right now?
The Provincial Health Officer, whose lead we follow through this health crisis, has determined that it is safe for staff and students to return to our schools. Strict new guidelines have been put in place that will enable social distancing and will reduce density of our students.

What will the new schedules look like in New West?
The voluntary return is for partial days. Schedules will differ school to school, and are also based on age and student needs, but the general expectation you can have is:

  • K-5 will be operating at a maximum of 50% density: half days, five days a week (morning or afternoon schedules will be based on grade level)
  • Grades 6-12 will be operating at a maximum of 20%: two half days, two days a week (middle school schedules will be broken down based on divisions, high school schedules will be based on course selection)
  • A combination of in-class instruction and/or child care coverage at one of our child learning centres will continue to be available 5 days a week for essential service workers (including for New West School District staff who have kids attending New West Schools), students with diverse needs and abilities, and for other students who require additional supports.

To find out what schedules are at your child’s school, you can find the link here:

What are the new health and safety measures?
Our schools are going to look different than they did before. Here are some of the things you can expect:

  • Extensive physical distancing measures in place (see next question)
  • Staggered start and pick up times when necessary
  • Increased signage and entry controls to access schools … appointments will be required for parents to gain access into schools
  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water, and hand sanitizer provided for rooms without sinks
  • Limiting the number of kids in each classroom
  • Breaks taken at staggered times
  • Physical activity time spent outside whenever possible
  • Restricted or limited access to spaces with more challenging high-touch surfaces
  • Learning tools and practices will be modified to reduce use of shared objects or toys
  • Removal of items that are challenging to disinfect
  • Mandatory daily health screenings (see question below)
  • Shared water fountains will be shut down and parents will be asked to send their kids to school with water
  • Students will be reminded not to share water or snacks with friends
  • Modified custodial schedules will allow for regular cleaning and disinfecting that meet new Worksafe BC guidelines (see question below)

What are the physical distancing measures we can expect to see? 
There are many new measures in place in our schools that will ensure everyone follows physical distancing guidelines. Those measures include:

  • Reduced number of kids, staggered start times and teacher determined recess/break times
  • Children will be reminded to keep their hands to themselves
  • Lessons will not include partner work in the same way as they previously might have
  • Additional desks and furniture will be removed or rearranged in classrooms to enable more space between students
  • Where attendance in a single class can’t be safely accommodated in one room, we may be need to spread students over two rooms
  • Students of all ages will be encouraged to move directly into classrooms and straight home at the end of their modified days to decrease the opportunity for social gatherings and interactions
  • Additional staff will be assigned to help direct parent and student traffic
  • Assemblies and other larger events will be modified, and where possible will be held virtually

What role will custodians play?
Our dedicated team of custodians have been diligently taking care of our schools and community since this COVID crisis started. When the Provincial Health Officer first released guidelines for schools, they confirmed and ensured that all products and cleaning schedules met the recommended standards. Over Spring Break they did a deep clean of every facility. Our custodians are hard at work, at each site, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces and more throughout the day.

We will be strictly following cleaning guidelines through the day, as laid out by Worksafe BC. And as we move forward, this will include daily cleans of each classroom space, and multiple opportunities each day to cleanse and disinfect high-touch surfaces like doors and bathroom taps.

How will you deal with paper or textbooks?
According to the Provincial Health Officer: there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted via paper surfaces. As such, there’s no need to limit the distribution of sharing of books or paper-based educational resources to students.

Mandatory daily health checks
Under the new guidelines for health and safety at BC schools, it is the parent’s responsibility to do a daily assessment of their child’s health before either bringing them to school or dropping them at before-school programs.

Please print this sheet to help guide your daily assessment of your child(ren)’s health:
Daily health assessment – parents

If your child exhibits any of the listed symptoms, they are not permitted to attend school. Or, if anyone in your household has a confirmed case of COVID-19, your child must remain home and you must contact your health provider for more.

Any student who starts to exhibit any of the above linked symptoms while in class will be immediately moved into the school’s designated isolation space, with parents called and asked to pick up their child as soon as possible.

Will masks be required of staff or students? 
Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, is not currently required by the Provincial Health and Safety Authorities we are taking guidance from (the PHO and Worksafe BC guidelines on K-12 educational settings).

That said, if staff or others have to come in close contact with somebody suddenly exhibiting symptoms, they will be encouraged to wear PPE in those limited or extreme situations. But the general use of PPE is not recommended.

However, students and staff may choose to wear their own PPE to provide them comfort in this new situation if they’d like to.

Will my child be given preferential treatment or a better grade if I select one option over the other?
No. All students – those engaged in the part-time return and those who continue on with remote learning – will be given equitable opportunities to learn. Teachers will be following the same curriculum and principles for all learners. (Example: teaching density of objects in water may involve each student in a classroom having matching sets of objects to experiment with, where a home learner may be asked to either watch a demo on screen or find suggested possible objects around their house that they can test.)


Looking for more information? Send your questions to We’ll continue to update this page as we hear from you and if/when recommendations change.