COVID-19: Teachers, parents raise alarm over lack of safety protocols
Parents and educators want the Ministry of Education to include more layers of protection in its back to school plan.
The president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, Terri Mooring said teachers want proactive measures, like a mask mandate for all teachers, staff and students from kindergarten to grade 12 in place before the first day of school.
“With the highly contagious Delta variant, we see a real need for a mask mandate at the start of the year, and not waiting six months before a mask mandate is initiated, like what happened last year,” Mooring said. “When it comes to compliance, it’s harder to start things mid year than to begin the year. It’s easier to start with these measures, then pull them back.”
On Monday, the B.C. Ministry of Health reported 1,434 new cases of the disease across B.C. over the past three days with 5,090 active cases. Of those active cases, 104 are being treated in hospital including 47 in intensive care. One person died during the same time period — in Fraser Health — bringing that total to 1,780.
As of Sunday, 73.2 per cent of British Columbians 12 and older have been fully vaccinated (3,393,049).
B.C.’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry has said more details will be unveiled before the start of the school year. In June, Henry presented a back to school plan that will not require students to be divided into cohorts, nor will there be smaller class sizes. At the time, Henry said extracurricular activities were expected to return to normal.
The document outlining the back to school plan says “Additional guidance for topics not covered here, including but not limited to personal protective equipment, including masks, staff-only spaces and transportation will be addressed in the August update.”
Parents like Erin Ross, who has three sons in public schools in Victoria, believe a mask mandate is essential. She’s especially worried about her 11 year old son, who is too young to be vaccinated.