VICTORIA, B.C. – The Province announced, Friday, the introduction of a gradual return to school following a two-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Minister of Education, Rob Fleming, the return to in-class learning, starting June 1, is optional based on how comfortable parents and students feel and will pave the way for a full re-start in September.

Approximately 5,000 students in B.C. have already safely returned to school. These are children of essential workers and students with complex needs or those who require extra support receiving in-class instruction.

Premier John Hogan says the return of classes is “welcome news” for many families and that every effort will be made to ensure schools are a safe place to learn, based on Provincial Health guidelines.

“This will be welcome news for many families who have struggled to adjust to remote and online learning, and for parents who are going back to work. At every step, we will move slowly and make health and safety our top priority. B.C. has done well under the guidance of our provincial health officials, and now is the time to take this next step together.”

In order to manage physical distancing in schools, most students will be back on a part-time basis. Students from kindergarten to grade five will be attending two or three days a week, while students in grades six to 12 will be in school once a week.

Fleming says parents will hear more details before May 22 from each School District about returning to school.