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BCTF head expects to see more school closures due to COVID-19, staffing shortages

Last Updated Nov 16, 2020 at 5:05 pm PST


Head of the BC Teachers’ Federation expects to see more schools shut down as COVID-19 continues to spread

BCTF believes more schools will close after Surrey's Cambridge Elementary forced to shutter due COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health has also announced closures of three schools due to staffing shortages

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The head of the BC Teachers’ Federation says she expects to see more school closures as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Her comments come after a Surrey school was ordered to closed by the health authority for the next two weeks, with two other schools in the Fraser Health region also shutting down because of COVID-related staffing issues.

“We’ve been working with government since 2017 to try to implement the recommendations from a task force in order to improve the teacher shortage or address the teacher shortage in some way, and that has not been adequately addressed,” BCTF President Teri Mooring said on Breakfast Television Monday morning.

“So here we find ourselves in both a pandemic and a significant teacher shortage as well. So we predict that more schools are going to close, in part, because of the staffing concerns that we’re going to see.”

Starting Monday, “troubleshooters” — individuals from a third party — are being made available track and expedite concerns around safety, as part of a B.C. Labour Relations Board decision about COVID-19 safety requirements.

Noting there’s been “failures in communication or required health and safety measures” amid the school restart, Mooring says troubleshooters are just one step to address issues flouted by teachers.

The Fraser Health region has seen an uptick in cases recently and has been identified as a hotspot for the virus in B.C. While the rising number of cases has been linked to private gatherings at homes across the region, the number of exposure notices at schools there is also rising.

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Last week, Surrey’s Cambridge Elementary was forced to close for two weeks due to COVID-19. Cambridge Elementary is the first school in B.C. to be ordered to close by a health authority due to an outbreak.

Fraser Health announced at the same time that Delta’s Jarvis Elementary and New Westminster’s Al Hideeya were closing voluntarily due to clusters of the virus.

Meanwhile, all middle school students and staff at Abbotsford Christian School are being told to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms until Nov. 23. As of Monday afternoon, the independent middle school has closed voluntarily for two weeks due to a staffing shortage after six COVID-19 cases were identified, according to Fraser Health.

NEWS 1130 has also learned that office staff at Ecole Riverdale in Surrey will be kept home as a precaution after the school sent a letter to parents asking them to keep a normal routine.