On September 1, 2020, BCTF President Teri
Mooring sent a letter to the Minister of Education outlining how the provincial
government should spend $242 million in federal funding to make schools safer.
In that letter Mooring said, “specifically, the federal funding should be used
to reduce school and classroom density to enable teachers, support staff, and
students to achieve physical distancing. The K–12 restart plan needs to bridge
the gap between the advice given to the public as a whole around physical distancing
and the reality facing our schools. Teachers and parents are being told to do
one thing in their home and community lives, but then told they can ignore the
most important preventative measure, physical distancing, in classrooms.”
can read the letter below, or print it here.
people in British Columbia were heartened when the federal government announced
on August 26, 2020 that BC would receive over $242 million as part of the Safe
Return to Class Fund. That funding is a gamechanger for BC’s K–12 restart plan,
and could be used in a proactive way to address many of the health and safety
concerns teachers and parents have as the school year is about to start.
this summer, you expressed confidence that the $45.6 million in funding from
BC’s COVID-19 Action Plan was sufficient to fund the required increase in
cleaning, hand-hygiene stations and the availability of masks. That funding,
especially to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for teachers and
support staff was very welcome. Our hope now is that the $242 million is spent
on other critical health and safety measures that promote physical distancing,
the most important layer of protection against the spread of COVID-19.
the federal funding should be used to reduce school and classroom density to
enable teachers, support staff, and students to achieve physical distancing.
The K–12 restart plan needs to bridge the gap between the advice given to the
public as a whole around physical distancing and the reality facing our
schools. Teachers and parents are being told to do one thing in their home and
community lives, but then told they can ignore the most important preventative
measure, physical distancing, in classrooms.
learning group model is not a sufficient replacement for actual physical
distancing. Our members understand that it helps with contact tracing and
controlling an outbreak, but they also see clearly that it is a significant
departure from best practices to prevent contracting COVID-19 or passing it on
to a loved one at home.
$242 million in new funding from the federal government, we have a real
opportunity to help everyone stay safer. An opportunity
to provide better protection for the people who work in our schools.
BCTF is advocating on behalf of our members for:
- smaller classes to
allow for physical distancing across all grades.
- hybrid and remote
options in every school district to help reduce class sizes and school density
as well as protect students and staff members, or their families, who are more
vulnerable because of existing health concerns.
- assurance that
students who opt into remote learning remain connected to
their school and space is available to them if they return to school in-person.
density and spacing for people working and learning in adult education, which
is exempt from learning groups, without reducing either the number of adults
who can access programs or the funding.
- more counsellors
to support students in a trauma-informed manner.
the federal funding to meet these objectives will ensure workers are safer and
students have access to the education they need. We all want our schools to
reopen and teachers want to welcome our students back enthusiastically.
However, the government has a duty and responsibility to make it as safe as
possible. With the federal funding you and your government now have the
opportunity to make much-needed improvements to the restart plan.
solid hybrid and remote options in place, there will be teachers who need
accommodations for health reasons available to do this work. Similarly, support
staff like Education Assistants (EAs) who also need accommodations to stay safe
will be available to support students remotely. This can all be done without
increasing workloads for teachers or support
staff. There are also Teachers Teaching on Call (TTOCs), included retired
teachers, who could be engaged to do this work. With $242 million, it is all possible.
teachers are ready to keep working with your government to get the restart plan
right. Let’s work together to ensure everyone in our schools is as safe as they