VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Teachers don’t feel safe co-existing with COVID-19 in schools according to the BC Teachers Federation, as concerns continue to be raised by members a few weeks after classes resumed.
BCTF President Teri Mooring says safety has been top of mind for nearly 9,000 members taking part in a poll before Sept. 21.
“I haven’t seen any improvement and we were concerned about this –is a relaxation of some of the standards because there is no oversight or enforcement,” Mooring says.
She adds, most of the members taking part are worried classrooms don’t have enough space or access to fresh air.
“It’s a really highly stressed environment right now. Part of the frustration I think is not enough communication coming from local health authorities when there are cases diagnosed in schools,” she says.
But NDP Leader John Horgan says teachers and parents with concerns need to be more proactive.
“Talk to the principals and the administrators in their school, make sure that they have all the information that they need and be confident that public health officials have always had a plan for sicknesses in schools pre-pandemic,” he says.
“Is it perfect? Certainly not, but we’re going to work every day to do what we can to make it so.”
He adds millions have been spent making sure children and teachers are safe.
Now that numerous exposures have been recorded, Mooring says stronger communication is needed.
“That still protects individual privacy. There’s a lot more work that can be done there. We’ve seen the provincial health office say they recognize that there’s been deficits in the communication. Well, those deficits are still there,” she explains.
And Horgan agrees mistakes have been made.
“I’m not saying that this is a perfect situation. Everyone understands that,” he says.
“But why we are where we are in B.C. right now — leading the country in our response to COVID-19 — is because people have focused on working together to find the solutions that all of us need. We’re all in this together.”
He also admits oversight hasn’t been perfect, but says “I’m sure everyone is working as hard as they can.”
“No one is sleepwalking through this extraordinary time. If there’s more resources needed, they’ll be available. Communication has to continue each and every day. If you don’t get the answer you want on Tuesday, you should ask again on Wednesday.”
So far no outbreaks have been declared in schools.