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On September 14, 2020, BCTF President Teri Mooring sent a letter to the Minister of Education seeking specific actions to address inconsistent ways school districts are addressing health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. In that letter, she wrote: “Because your Ministry failed to issue clear directives, crucial decisions have been left to the discretion of school districts. As a result, we see vastly different policies and practices across the province, resulting in significant inequities for students and staff. This is causing confusion, stress, and a downward slide in working and learning conditions.”

Mooring then expressed her concerns that not enough effort has been taken to reduce class sizes and articulated three key actions the Minister must take:

  1. Direct all school districts to provide every BCTF member with a face shield.
  2. Direct all school districts to offer a remote learning option that is available to all students.
  3. Direct all school districts to provide dedicated staffing for remote learning options, rather than adding this work to the existing workload of classroom teachers.

Read the full letter below.

September 14, 2020

Honourable Rob Fleming
Minister of Education
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Dear Minister Fleming:

As we enter the first full week of the 2020–21 school year, both excitement and anxiety are running high in schools across our province. Students, parents, and teachers are excited to reconnect with classmates, friends, and colleagues they’ve missed since mid-March.

However, anxiety, fear, and stress now significantly outweigh the excitement because of needless uncertainties and inconsistencies created by your Ministry’s lack of clear direction on fundamental health and safety issues and on equity of learning opportunities.

Because your Ministry failed to issue clear directives, crucial decisions have been left to the discretion of school districts. As a result, we see vastly different policies and practices across the province, resulting in significant inequities for students and staff. This is causing confusion, stress, and a downward slide in working and learning conditions.

Today the BCTF is demanding that you immediately rectify these disparities by enforcing consistent measures across the province as follows:

  • direct all school districts to provide every BCTF member a face shield.
  • direct all school districts to offer a remote learning option that is available to all students.
  • direct all school districts to provide dedicated staffing for remote option learning programs, rather than adding this work to the existing workload of classroom teachers.

Without ensuring these consistent measures, our members are feeling pressured to work in unsafe conditions. This exploits their professionalism as teachers, their high expectations of themselves and their caring for students. We want to provide the very finest education possible under these pandemic conditions, but it’s simply not possible without a clear message from Victoria ensuring greater safety, more support, and adequate staffing.

Since July 29, 2020 we have been clear that physical distancing would not be possible in your restart plan. Now we have thousands of teachers in crowded classrooms with up to 30 students or more. You need to take more decisive action to ensure school districts spend the $242 million in federal money to enhance student and teacher safety by providing equitable remote options and reducing school and class density.

We see these as critical measures that need to be implemented to increase the safety of schools and to provide parents with equitable learning options, regardless of where they live in the province.

Sincerely,

Teri Mooring
President

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at rovergaard@bctf.ca.

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