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Better communication needed between health, education: BCTF

Last Updated Oct 29, 2020 at 1:33 pm PDT

FILE - President of the BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF) Teri Mooring is interviewed during a protest at the Victoria Convention Centre in Victoria, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. The B.C. Teachers' Federation wants the province to reduce class sizes and make the use of masks mandatory wherever physical distancing isn't possible as part of its back-to-school plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Communication between health authorities and the education community around COVID-19 remains a challenge: BCTF

BCTF looking for the province to give more direction to school districts regarding reporting of exposures

The teachers' union is also recommending a mask policy for schools

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Months into the return to school, the head of the B.C. teachers’ union says communication between health authorities and the education community around COVID-19 remains a challenge.

And Teri Mooring, BC Teachers’ Federation president, doesn’t think they can be resolved, mainly due to privacy concerns.

It would be better to have a direct line of communication between health and education providers, instead of going through government staff, and that is being worked on, she said.

“Everything is being translated through government staff, who are neither educators or health professionals. So they’re getting information from health and they’re interpreting it to the best of their ability — communicating with us, we’re communicating back. It’s just like a game of telephone tag,” Mooring said.

More details around COVID-19 exposures, such as whether they are happening during class time or after hours, would be helpful, she added.

“There was an exposure event recorded at a school. Well, it happened at 7 o’clock at night and it wasn’t a staff member at the school and it wasn’t a student, and so that information wasn’t shared and the next day 190 kids were absent from the school because their families heard there was an exposure event.”

She added teachers are looking for the provincial government to give more specific direction to school districts regarding the reporting of exposures, which was lacking due to the election.

The union is still recommending a mask policy for schools.

“There is tension created when some folks are wearing masks in schools and others aren’t,” she said.

Despite the ongoing issues, Mooring said most of the union’s 47,000 members are keeping calm and carrying on.

“Certainly, there’s anxiety. There’s no doubt about that,” she said. “But, you know, a lot of good things are happening. A lot of schools are wearing masks all the time, and there’s a lot of calmness out there also.”