The following is a
statement from BCTF President Teri Mooring
Teachers around the province are
deeply concerned to hear about exposures connected to more infectious
variants of COVID-19 in schools in Surrey and Delta. It is time for
decisive action by government and health officials to counter this new threat
to the safety of schools.
It’s imperative that staff, students,
and parents within these school communities follow the directions of health
officials. In the broader community, we need people to do all they can to limit
the potential spread of these variants, so they don’t find their way into our
schools. However, it’s clear that the existing measures are not enough.
We need the Ministry of Education,
Provincial Health Officer, and Health Authorities to do more to protect staff,
students and the families they all go home to. The BC government
and health officials have the power to make schools safer and they must use
that power. With COVID-19 variants clearly spreading in communities, it is
time for these officials to take immediate action.
To start, school districts need the
authority to go above and beyond the established health and safety
guidelines when necessary. When there is a high rate of COVID-19
within a community, a school district should be able to make regional or
site-based enhancements to the safety protocols. Those enhancements include
mandating masks everywhere in specific schools, including at elementary
schools, and making changes to schedules or online learning access to reduce
density and increase physical distancing.
School districts need to be able to
exceed the health guidelines to ensure everyone in schools is better
protected, especially when there has been an exposure to a COVID-19 variant.
This will help keep people in schools safe, but also prevent the variants of
concern from spreading to vulnerable adults living in students’ homes.
We also need to see widespread rapid
testing when a COVID-19 variant of concern shows up in schools. This is not the
time to be conservative with testing. Everyone connected to a class
with a COVID-19 variant exposure should receive a rapid test. This could help
find more cases and reduce the stress and anxiety that is rapidly rising.