VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As the province stops short of making masks mandatory in the classroom, the BC Teachers’ Federation is taking matters into its own hands.
President of the teachers union, Teri Mooring, says the BCTF is trying to make schools as safe as possible during the pandemic. So the federation is calling on parents and teachers to work together to normalize masks in the classroom.
“We’re encouraging families to work with us and encourage their children to wear masks when they’re at school as well. And that will help to normalize mask-wearing across the board in our society,” Mooring explains.
And since middle and secondary schools have already created a culture of mask-wearing in hallways and on buses, Mooring says extending that culture to all classrooms is natural.
Communication and delivery of outbreak information have also been a challenge for parents, so the teachers’ federation is pushing for notices to go out faster.
“There is a communication lag between when an exposure happens, and the notification goes out. Sometimes the letters that go to schools, it’s been indicated the exposure event happened 10 or 12 days before the notice is given out. And that’s been very disconcerting,” Mooring says.
But Mooring says they’re optimistic things will improve when it comes to handling COVID-19 communication in schools.
“We’ve been very willing to work with the public, or the provincial health office on this and with government on this, because we want to make sure that all the information gets shared in a timely manner,” she says.
“We also want to ensure that as much information as possible is shared. In other words, we understand privacy issues very well. We are always working with privacy issues in schools and that’s something that we’re required to do. And so, we understand stigma and privacy. But there’s also a lot of information that could be shared with both families, and teachers that would help make people feel a lot more comfortable.”
Earlier this week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a province-wide order requiring masks in “all public indoor settings and workplaces.”
– With files from Marcella Bernardo