Across the province,
most teachers and students are now back in classrooms. To understand their
experiences, and to continue to advocate for the health and safety measures
necessary to keep our school communities safe, the BCTF conducted a quick poll
of members. The poll was open from September 17 to 21 and responses were
received from all but two school districts. The poll gathered 8,952 responses,
representing classroom teachers (70%), specialist teachers (21%), teachers
teaching on call (5%) and other teaching positions.
You can read the
snapshot report on the findings at https://bctf.ca/publications/ResearchReports.aspx?id=58256.
The poll asked
teachers about the adequacy of the health and safety measures in place at their
worksites. Only 7% of respondents who have returned to in-person instruction
said the measures were “completely adequate.” A total of 60% of teachers said
the health and safety conditions in their school setting was either “completely
inadequate” or “somewhat inadequate.”
BCTF President Teri
Mooring said the survey outlines how the Ministry of Education’s restart plan
has fallen short in making sure teachers have the necessary health and safety
measures in place during this pandemic.
majority of teachers are working in schools without the necessary safety
measures in place to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19,” said Mooring.
“These are not surprising results. Teachers have been raising concerns since
July 29 that the Ministry of Education’s restart plan wasn’t good enough. Many
teachers are working in classrooms that have no space for physical distancing
or access to fresh air. In many cases there has been no reduction in class
sizes or school density. Coupled with a weak mask mandate and it’s clear why so
many teachers are reporting unsafe conditions.”
While the poll was
taken at the end of the second week of school, Mooring explained that things
have not improved as BC enters the second month of schools.
exposures started almost as soon as schools opened, and now we know there has
likely been in-school transmission at multiple sites. The first month has been
filled with confusing and inconsistent public reporting, online speculation,
and serious lags between an exposure and effective contact tracing. We need the
health authorities and school districts to be doing a better job at informing
teachers and parents about possible exposures.”
The BCTF continues to
call for a stronger mask mandate as well as smaller class sizes and equitable
hybrid education options to reduce density in schools and allow people to
maintain safe distances.
The Federation has
also sent a letter to the Office of the Provincial Health Officer that you can
read here https://www.bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/CCD/Ltr%20to%20Dr.%20Bonnie%20Henry-September%2023%202020.pdf