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BCTF President advocates for a blanket mask mandate for all students

BC Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring is continuing to press the provincial government on the status of ventilation systems across all school districts.

Students and staff for the majority of the province are back in class today (Tuesday) as the 2021-22 academic year kicks off.

However, students in Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House will be hitting the books starting on Wednesday.

During a media briefing on Monday, Mooring stated it would be prudent for the government to follow Ontario’s lead and to make this data public for everyone to see.

“We also think that it should be publicly reported. The Toronto School District does such public reporting at each of its schools and we have been asked by families to see if they can find out the information about school ventilation systems.”

“That work is not complete and we are not satisfied that all the mitigation strategies that need to be in place are in place but it’s so unfortunate this work wasn’t started earlier.”

She added having proper ventilation in schools is not a new concern.

“We started out behind the eight ball at the start of this pandemic on ventilation systems already because of the decades of underfunding and deferred maintenance costs. That has been a real issue in schools for a very long time.”

Mooring continues to advocate for a blanket mask mandate for all students.

Masks are required for students from Grade 4 through 12 in most enclosed spaces in schools…..but their use is only “advised” for children in Kindergarten to Grade 3.

“With the Delta variant, it doesn’t make sense because we have seen in other jurisdictions that kindergarten to grade three students is contracting the virus as well as other students. We are very frustrated the mask mandate began in grade four. It just doesn’t make sense.”

In addition, Mooring is also calling for timely, transparent data from the BC Centre for Disease Control when it comes to virus transmission in schools as exposure notifications are expected to become a thing of the past.

“We have heard that exposure notifications will be ceased but we don’t know if anything will be put in their place. So, that is why we are calling on quality, meaningful and timely data to be produced as to what is happening in schools over the course of the school year.”

“We would like to see similar to last year, how many workers have gotten ill, how many students have gotten ill, we can all do that in school districts without identifying individuals and it’s important that the public understands where we are with COVID-19.”

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