BC closes K–12 schools to prevent COVID-19 spread

The BC government announced today that in-person K–12 classes will be suspended indefinitely to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“We are used to schools being safe places where kids learn and grow and socialize, but as the global pandemic COVID-19 is evolving quickly and is having a growing impact in British Columbia, we have to take action today to protect our students and staff and keep our schools safe,” said BC Education Minister Rob Fleming in a press conference today.

He was joined by BC Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James.

The Education Ministry said the suspension is in line with advice from health officials, and it is also advising private schools to end in-person instruction.

There are three schools on the University Endowment Lands that will be impacted: University Hill Secondary School, University Hill Elementary School and Norma Rose Point School.

BC is following the lead of other provinces. The Government of Alberta announced that K–12 schools and daycare centres would close on March 15, and the Government of Ontario closed publicly-funded schools on March 12 until April 5.

According to Fleming, “over 99 per cent of students” in BC are on spring break and the ministry is working with schools to create plans for how to continue education remotely once vacation ends.

He added that all students who were on track to move to the next grade will do so and Grade 12 students will still be able to graduate this year. Graduation assessments for students in Grades 10 and 11 will be postponed.

UBC Media Relations Director of University Affairs Matthew Ramsey said in an emailed statement to The Ubyssey that “the admission process for BC High School students is proceeding as planned and [UBC is] assessing applications as typical.”

“The Ministry of Education confirmed Mar. 17 that Grade 12 students will have their final grades so we can continue to process applications as planned,” reads the statement.

According to the university's 2019/20 enrolment report, the majority of new-to-UBC direct-entry undergraduate students previously studied in BC. Ramsey added that this year’s application volume is “comparable to last year’s” and the university is taking direction from BC health authorities.

“We are guided by provincial public health authorities and will factor their guidance into our enrolment planning process to ensure that any impacts are manageable.”

Stay up to date on information related to COVID-19 by visiting ubyssey.ca/covid-19, the websites of the BCCDC, the Public Health Agency of Canada or the World Health Organization. For updates on UBC’s response to COVID-19, visit ubc.ca/campus-notifications/.