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'Sick Out' to leave student desks empty in B.C. as fears over COVID-19 in schools grow

FILE (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Group of Langley parents has planned a B.C.-wide 'sick out' protest to share their concerns about COVID-19 in schools

Many parents in B.C. continue to demand mandatory masks in schools, smaller classes, more online learning options

Surrey students sharing their stresses and emotions with administrators

LANGLEY (NEWS 1130) – As British Columbians grapple with day after day of record-breaking COVID-19 cases, a group of Langley parents is determined to make a statement about COVID safety in schools.

On Tuesday, parents across the province will be joining them in keeping kids at home for the day, in a “sick out” protest that could leave desks empty from Tofino to Fort St. John.

“Because of anti-mask parents (maybe even some staff too) we are hearing it from all over that parents are yelling and screaming to teachers and staff that nobody better tell their kid to wear a mask. Time to get it mandated!” says Miranda Tracy, a Langley mom and one of the event organizers.

The main areas of contention remain a lack of mandate for masks in public education facilities, classrooms where social distancing is difficult or impossible due to the number of students, and a demand for more access to online learning options.

Several people say they will participate in solidarity even though their kids are already out of school and learning at home.

Kids stressed, unfocused

Surrey Schools superintendent Jordan Tinney is sharing some thoughts from high school students struggling with focus and other challenges.

Tinney says more than 2,500 students responded to an initial survey about their COVID-19 learning experience and he plans to send out a second survey to hear more specifically about what Grade 10 and 11 students want to see improved in terms of safety.

“As parents and family members of children in the B.C. school system, it is time to stand up and have our voices heard in support of our children, teachers and all school staff,” writes Tracy.

“Covid-19 is rampant in our communities and our schools. At minimum, we need classes of 15 children max, more inclusive online learning options without the threat of losing your child’s place in their school, and a mandate for masks in all schools.”

Tracy says the group understands how important it is to keep schools open but has concerns about the safety of the work environment for educators and the safety of the learning environment for kids.

“If the government won’t listen to those actually working in the schools, it’s now up to us as parents, guardians, and families to show our support. Teachers, SEAs, Counselors, Librarians, Admin workers and all school staff, we see you. We stand with you,” she says.

The group is also planning an email blitz of the government and school districts, for Tuesday