Zoe Zheng / Staff reporter

On May 15, B.C. announced that some children would start to return to classrooms on a part-time, voluntary basis beginning June 1. The gradual reopening will apply to all students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Schools will have to abide by rigorous cleaning procedures and follow provincial health guidelines. “These steps will pave the way for a full start back in September,” said John Horgan, B.C. Premier.

People have different opinions on this big decision, but there are more proofs supporting that this will be a right move. 

There are some problems arising in the process of working online and remotely for both teachers and students. Most of teachers don’t have the experience of teaching remotely yet and they can not apply the strategies that they have learned for teaching face-to-face. A lot of students are struggling with feeling motivated and staying organized and on top of all their classes and assignments. They may get confused when teachers do not explain clearly. They seem a lot more reluctant to share ideas in an online format.

“If I don’t hear from students for a few days and I don’t know why, I will wonder if they saw my message, if they saw it but they are ignoring it, or if something is wrong,” said Tessa Voykin, science teacher.

Therefore, teaching and learning face-to-face in class is a richer experience for many teachers and students.

People should believe their government would not make the decision if the government felt there was an undue risk to the health and well-being of youngsters, adults and teachers going to schools.

“All school plans will be based on the most up-to-date health and safety protocols to keep students, staff and families learning safely in every community in British Columbia,” said Stephanie Higginson, president of BC School Trustees Association. 

According to the BCCDC, the COVID-19 virus has a very low infection rate in children. In B.C., less than 1% of children and youth tested have been COVID-19 positive. Most children are not at high risk for COVID-19 infection. In addition, children and youth who are tested positive for COVID-19 typically have much milder symptoms of COVID-19. Many children have asymptomatic disease. However, there is no conclusive evidence that children who are asymptomatic pose a risk to other children or to adults. Evidence indicates transmission involving children is primarily limited to household settings and from COVID-19 positive adults to children. Children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in child care facilities, schools or in community settings.

“I think that after weeks of being told how important it is for us all to stay home as much as possible, my first reaction to the announcement of reopening schools was an emotional one – ‘this doesn’t feel right’,” added Voykin, “but after hearing more about how the decision was made and the science behind it, I stopped feeling that way and am now focusing more on the benefits of having some time in school with my students again.”

There are other reasons supporting that this decision is right. Not having in-person classes has been a struggle for parents who have stayed or returned to work. Reopening schools also provides graduating students an opportunity to reconnect with their classmates and teachers before saying goodbye and moving on to the next phase of their lives. 

“I expect that when students return to their schools, schools should provide enough hand sanitizer and remind students to wash their hands frequently and, most importantly, to keep social distancing,” said Jenny Dong, mother of a student in grade 11. She voiced many parents’ concerns.

This will not be a problem after reopening the schools because schools and the government worked hard to ensure that very high standards of health and safety were in place. They listed things they would implement such as requiring all the people to wash their hands as soon as they enter school property and requiring students, parents and staff to do a daily health assessment. Schools will also offer enough personal protective equipments.

However, some people think there is still a potential risk to go back to schools since schools and the government can not ensure all the students will focus on hygiene all the time.

“I will try to pay attention to hygiene but I am expecting that I will forget,” said Christal Tu, grade 8.

Returning to schools is not mandatory. Students and their families are able to choose to continue remote learning if they still do not feel safe.

It is easy to tell that the government made this decision after careful thought and discussion based on scientific evidences. With everyone’s health and safety assured, schools are always the best place to teach and learn. All students, teachers and parents are able to gain benefits form it. People will eventually see the outcome of this right move after a period of time.