As kids head back to school, the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) still has concerns about the province’s back to school plan.
Terri Mooring, the BCTF president, said that some of their concerns have been met, but there is still work that needs to be done.
“When it was announced at the end of July, we indicated that we weren’t supportive of it and that it would need more work,” she stated. “Since then, there has been several announcements made, which has gotten us somewhat closer to a place where we are comfortable, but there’s still work that is remaining.”
Mooring said they were hoping that stricter guidelines about how school districts could use the federal government’s money would be introduced. She said that is just one of many concerns that BCTF is hoping might be addressed as students get used to being back to school.
“The lack of preventative measures in classrooms. When we leave our homes, we are told that we need to physically distance, and when we aren’t able to do that, we should wear a mask,” she said. “None of those preventative measures are in place in classrooms. Masks and physical distancing are used in hallways, on buses, but when it comes to actually inside the classrooms, none of these measures are actually necessary.”
Mooring added that another concern they have is regarding families who may not feel conformable sending their kids back to school just yet.
“Families don’t actually have many options if they are uncomfortable sending their children to school. Most districts have homeschooling and distributed learning options,” she said. “We shared this concern with the Ministry, and they agreed that a remote option should be offered, and they’ve committed to fully fund that option. The problem is that we are seeing is that this option is interpreted very differently across the province.”
Mooring said that the government had made some changes and moves that have brought the BCTF closer to something that they are comfortable with.
“We were pleased that the government decided to make the first week an orientation week. The Ministry did introduce a more stringent mask policy then they needed to according to the Provincial Health Office; however, we just don’t think it goes far enough; we think students ten years old and older should be required to wear masks and all the adults when they are in school buildings,” she said. “The other is that we were pleased that the government said that there should be a fourth option, a remote option, where it fully insured. However, because there just aren’t enough guidelines been giving to the district about what it should look like, and similarly to federal funding, we are glad that money had flowed to school districts, we wish that there were more stringent guidelines about how it should be spent.”
Mooring added that all these concerns are so students can be successful in the classroom and that the biggest thing that they are pushing for is that the students are as safe as can be.