This is going to be one of the strangest starts to the year that BC education has ever faced. There are so many moving parts and as we go into this, so many of us are facing uncertainty and anxiety over what we should be planning for. Looking forwards, we can expect a few things to potentially occur, and hopefully planning for these events will help us feel like we have at least a tiny bit of breathing room.
1. Classroom community is key. Relationships are a huge part of what will make this year function, and it is important that this is where we start, even with the tension we will feel to push into curriculum when our teaching time is so greatly reduced by health and safety protocols or by compressed schedules in the older grades. The relationships will be what allow us to support our students through the changes that may occur over the course of the year.
2. Disruptions and switching between in-class and isolation at home is a distinct possibility. If the local health officer orders a classroom or cohort to isolate, we may have to switch on the fly. Just like we put together our “I’m too sick to plan for a TTOC” dayplans of emergency activities, have two or three days of emergency independent home learning planned and ready to go. If you happen to be able to update it as you go along so that it involves review of material you’ve already covered in class, that’s amazing… or it can be skill building and review of last year’s concepts. It will allow you the time to set up and switch over to your online classroom in a less rushed and panicked manner, since your students have meaningful work to occupy them while you make that shift.
3. Chances are, you may end up stuck at home with mild cold symptoms while you wait for COVID test results. It’s anyone’s guess what the TTOC situation will be like this year. Those “too sick to plan for a TTOC” day plans? You probably want to have two or three days worth of them ready to go.
4. Keep your safety a top priority. There are safety protocols that are required to keep us safe. Many of us feel that they are insufficient, but we need to remain vigilant in making sure that what protocols there are are followed. If your school/district is not following the PHO and WCB’s health and safety protocols, please document it and report it to your health and safety committee and, if that doesn’t garner results, to your Union local. If something feels off to you, contact your local for further support.
MyPITA will continue to advocate for reduced classroom density and extra support for teachers and students this year.