N.B. teachers say health and safety preparation biggest challenges for school year

N.B. teachers say health and safety preparation biggest challenges for school year

N.B. teachers say health and safety preparation biggest challenges for school year

New Brunswick teachers say they are preparing for the most challenging September of their careers as the coronavirus pandemic continues, and health and safety in classrooms are top-of-mind.

“We’re hearing from lots of teachers,… they still have many questions about how their health and safety, and those of their students, will be maintained in September,” says Rick Cuming, president of the New Brunswick Teachers ‘Association.

“With regular class sizes in middle school, and the large class sizes at the Grade 3-5 level, how are those bubbles going to allow them to be safe? And teachers need to hear from the medical experts that the return to school plan will ensure their safety,” Cuming says.

According to the province’s Back to School Plan, students of different ages will be handled differently.

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Children in Grade 2 and below will be limited to groups of 15 and will need to stay away from other groups. A similar system will apply to students in Grades 3-5, with group sizes based on yet-to-be-outlined criteria.

Middle schools will have regular sized classes, though the groups will also have to stay away from one another.

For those in high school, a “blended” learning environment will be implemented, with students spending some time in the classroom and some time learning from home.

When in the classroom, high school students will be spaced out to maintain physical distancing.










N.B. asking parents to consider not sending their kids to school on the bus


N.B. asking parents to consider not sending their kids to school on the bus

Education Minister Dominic Cardy hasn’t shied away from the fact that the plan carries risk. However, he says the plan combined with the province’s overall pandemic response should be enough to keep teachers and students safe.

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“I think that we need to follow a middle path on this, that takes into account absolutely the safety risks posed by COVID-19 and to me, the back to school plan includes the province’s broader efforts against the virus including keeping the borders restricted and making sure that we maintain social distancing,” Cardy said.

“I think that the modifications to the school year that we’ve made, while they are annoying and while they will cause problems, and I’m sure in some of the schools the first couple of weeks will be a pain, we’re doing this to protect the student body and the adults working in the education system,” he said.

“I think it’s a balance of ensuring the educational needs of the students are met while keeping everyone as safe as possible.”

The Teachers’ Association says preparing for those changes creates its own set of challenges.

“Teachers certainly know that the return to school in September is going to be a lot different, but they’re still waiting for a lot more details. The current guidelines are quite broad and principles have a lot of detail to include in their operational plans,” Cuming said.

“In a normal year, teachers would have known all their schedules and their assignments before they left in June. But, this isn’t a normal year. Some teachers don’t know their schedules and others have been reassigned and are busy preparing new materials.”

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Cardy said work is underway to ensure operational plans are finished by the time teachers walk into the school, and they will be properly supported as they work through the kinks and adjust.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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