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“It’s a stressful time,” : BCTF President on abundance of teachers calling in sick

(Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

BC Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring is concerned about the alarming rate teachers in the north and around the province are calling in sick.

Mooring told Vista Radio a lot of the recent exposure events are happening outside the Lower Mainland.

“It’s an incredibly stressful time. We are seeing it more and more with an increase in the number of notices being sent out from a boarder range of locals, originally it was more concentrated on the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health Authorities and that has absolutely changed.”

“We are seeing many more exposure cases across the province and it is always stressful when teachers and families get notifications that their children or a staff member have been identified as a close contact.”

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Mooring is aware of several staff members at Heather Park Elementary in Prince George who called in sick.

However, she would not confirm that those calls were COVID-related.

This has renewed calls once again from the BCTF to see two of their long-standing recommendations be enforced by the Ministry of Education.

“This is one of the reasons why we are calling on the government to impose a mask mandate and to reduce class sizes because what we don’t want is to see exposure events turn into the in-school transmission.”

As for the policy on calling in sick or monitoring any potential COVID-19 symptoms, Mooring mentioned the Health Check ministered by the provincial government has undergone some minor tweaks.

“Teachers, when they go to work every day need to actively identify that they are not experiencing any symptoms, that’s one thing and if they are then they need to be away and that is certainly causing more absences. At one time, the testing results took up to about seven or more days, and now the time frame has been reduced quite a bit, which is positive.”

“The other issue is of course if there is a positive test, then the teacher needs to be off for the ten days post symptoms and it’s usually 14 days as a general rule. As we know, under the last decade there has been dramatic underfunding and a lack of replacement teachers, in particular,  teachers often came to work sick and there is a much lower tolerance for that right now.  When they have been contact-traced, then they need to monitor for their symptoms and if they are identified as a close contact that has been exposed and 8-1-1 advises that they need to take a test then that’s what needs to happen.”

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