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Majority of teachers say health and safety measures inadequate

(Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

A significant amount of provincial educators believe the current health and safety measures put in place by the government are inadequate.

That’s according to a poll from the BC Teachers Federation where 22.5% of the 89-hundred respondents said the measures were completely ineffective while 37% stated they are somewhat inadequate.

BCTF President, Teri Mooring…

“We are going to share our results and we are also at the Labour Relations Board as this information will also help us there to really show the lack of confidence teachers have in the health and safety measures that are there.”

The survey garnered almost 9-thousand reactions, representing mostly classroom and specialist teachers.

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Mooring mentioned while she appreciates the robust contact tracing that has been happening at all schools in the province, better communication is needed.

“I don’t doubt that the contact tracing is effective, I have no reason to question that but what is not effective is communication. We have been pushing both the provincial health authorities and the and school districts to provide more information when there is an exposure event at a school.”

“Part of the problem is that there could be an exposure event in a classroom and the classroom teacher isn’t contacted within the contact tracing process even though they are teaching in the classroom.”

Six exposure events have been announced across Northern Health during the first month of the school year.

The BCTF also wants to see a much stricter mask policy enforced at all schools along with smaller class sizes.

“What we don’t want to see are in school transmissions and we know that wearing masks and physical distancing are the two ways to prevent those transmissions or transmissions of virus anywhere. There is always a concern when there is a different standard for schools then there is everywhere else and that’s been part of the problem,” said Mooring.

“We are looking for masks to be worn by every adult in a school and children 10 and up and this is something we have been looking for quite some time.”

Demands for either hybrid or remote learning options have been brought up once again as some areas have seen a decline in enrollment.

Most notably, School District 57 in Prince George has seen over 400 students and their families withdraw to pursue other educational opportunities, equating to a budget shortfall of about 2.3 million dollars.

This eventually led to some schools losing a class while others gained one while some kids adjusted to a different learning group.

In addition, eighteen teachers were in the process of being redeployed to different positions.

“We are still hearing that some districts aren’t supplying it (remote learning) and this option, even though the government did guarantee it regardless of where families lived that would help to support the reduction of classroom density,” added Mooring.

“We talked to a lot of families that didn’t want to give up their spot at their child’s school and remote learning saves that spot, there is an answer there, dedicated teachers just need to be added. I think more families going into distributed learning is really a bit of testament to the lack of comfort of the safety procedures in schools right now.”

95% of respondents returned to in-person instruction since September 8th but only 7% of them feel the current working conditions are acceptable.

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