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Advocate hopes winter break at B.C. schools will be extended, halting COVID exposures until 2021

Last Updated Dec 7, 2020 at 7:04 am PDT

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS1130 photo)

Well-respected educator hopes B.C. will extend winter break for students amid COVID-19

Long-time educator Doug Player says extended break would allow COVID-19 situation to cool down in B.C. schools

Education consultant would like to see Dr. Bonnie Henry address COVID-19 concerns in the classroom

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – A former administrator with decades of experience in B.C. schools really hopes to hear that winter break will be extended, allowing the COVID-19 situation to cool down in the province’s classrooms.

Doug Player is a consultant and well-respected educator who has been an outspoken advocate for teachers and students during the pandemic.

He has pushed for more stringent protocols and a stronger voice for educators in decisions regarding the control of COVID-19.

“I would expect, in the next briefing [from Dr. Bonnie Henry], for there to be offered some better information on the actual transmission rate in schools rather than the generalizations given to date. In spite of being asked multiple times, no actual figures have been given on the rate of transmission in schools,” Player writes in his blog.

“This information would go a long way to allowing us to be calm. It is clear from very recent peer reviewed studies that transmission in schools and to the community from schools is a serious problem. Prove to us that is not the case here and a much greater sense of calm will exist. However, withholding this information will only exacerbate the angst.”

Player predicts Monday’s briefing will include an announcement about the extension of winter break, which he says would halt any school exposures until at least Jan. 11, slow the spread of the coronavirus, help contact tracers catch up on a seven-to-10 day backlog, and give teachers and school employees a longer mental health break.

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He also feels an extended break could allow the possibility of 14 days of household isolation for students and their parents or guardians.

“So having a small family get together at Christmas would be possible. It has been 345 days since I hugged my grandchildren!” Player says.

“There are many ways to make up lost instructional time between now and the end of June if that is of concern. Moreover, announcing this in one of the next two briefings would enable parents to make appropriate plans for their children,” he adds.

“And above all, this decision would actually enable school employees, children and their household members to follow the third part of the mantra and ‘be safe.'”

Last month, the provincial health officer said she was looking at the possibility of closing schools early for winter break. However, Henry said there are a number of factors to consider before making such a move.

Among those factors is childcare, and thinking about how extended school closures would impact working families.