(Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)
BC Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring told Vista Radio educators and support staff have the second-highest number of WorkSafe claims in relation to the coronavirus out of all the sectors in the province.
Teachers only trail health care workers as well those employed in long-term and acute care.
Mooring noted WorkSafe BC has accepted three times as many claims from elementary teachers as high school teachers.
“Within the teachers who have applied for Worksafe claims because they have gotten sick with COVID, 76% of them are elementary school teachers and that is alarming to us that there is such a discrepancy.”
“When we look at the claims altogether in WorkSafe BC it’s more than 200 claims made by teachers across the province. Some of them have been accepted and some of them haven’t I will say that the elementary school teachers who make claims tend to be accepted at an 89% rate.”
The head of the Teachers Federation pointed to a couple of reasons why the discrepancy exists between high school and elementary teachers when it comes to claims.
“One being that elementary-aged students don’t need to wear masks in schools and another is that physical distancing is very difficult in elementary schools and there aren’t any districts who have taken any steps to reduce classroom density. The same cannot be said for secondary schools. Many districts have instituted a hybrid model so that not all students attend school all day, every day.”
“There is more of a mask mandate at secondary schools.”
“This is the only window we have that actually paints a picture of what is happening in schools because we are not getting any school-based data from either the provincial government or the provincial health office so we really don’t know how many in-school transmissions are occurring, how many staff are getting ill and how many students are also getting ill,” added Mooring.
Despite the number of potential exposure events occurring at northern schools, the Ministry of Education continues to state transmission rates are low and current protections are working.
However, Mooring would like a little more transparency and wants that data to be shared.
“I think it’s really important that families and teachers understand what is happening in schools. In order for us to know that the data needs to be shared. This is the case in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and Alberta. They not only share this data but they regularly update it as well – we aren’t sure why these jurisdictions are able to do it and BC isn’t.”
However, the BCTF received some welcome news from the government’s updated vaccination plan today (Thursday).
Starting next month, over 300,000 front-line workers, including teachers will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination as the Immunization Plan moves forward ahead of schedule.
I join all of my teacher colleagues in expressing huge relief that educators across BC will be prioritized in April to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Teachers, support staff, and other education workers have gone above and beyond every single day to make sure our students are safe/2
— Teri Mooring (@TeriMooring) March 18, 2021