Parents and educators ask how B.C.’s learning groups will manage education assistants

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“My son, or any other student with a disability, or ‘diversability,’ should be able to attend in-person school, full-time, regardless of the size of their school. At least, this is how it reads to me,” said Watson.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, acknowledged the importance of in-classroom learning at Thursday’s daily COVID-19 update.

“There are many different needs over and above the educational needs of children where in-classroom settings are incredibly important,” she said.

“It’s really one of the next big conversations,” said Darren Danyluk, president of the B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association.

It will be complex in some cases, he said, to find to balance between learning groups capped in size to allow for easy contact tracing and the need to avoid a return students with special needs being pulled out of classrooms for support instead of receiving it from assistants alongside their peers.

“Then you have that isolation,” said Danyluk. “My colleagues in leadership positions and teachers feel there have been significant gains with inclusion and want to preserve that as much as possible.”

Warren Williams, president of the K-12 President’s Council of CUPE Local 15, which represents education assistants, said “we are advocating for more EA support in classrooms. We don’t have a sense of how many more, but can see there will be a need as there is a rolling out of these cohorts.”

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