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B.C. teachers need a respite, some pulling double duty despite assurances says union

Last Updated Dec 16, 2020 at 6:43 am PDT

FILE -- A sign outside Hastings Elementary Community School in Vancouver reminds anyone entering the school to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS1130 Photo)
Summary

BCTF asking province to cap class sizes at 15, especially in some districts

Teachers need a break and shouldn't have to meet regular responsibilities, says union

Some teachers continue to support virtual and in-person learning despite assurances, according to BCTF

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The BC Teachers’ Federation says if the province won’t extend winter break then it should at least give teachers a respite, asking for smaller classes and relaxed teaching requirements.

BCTF President Teri Mooring says some schools in the Fraser Health region have sent home more than a dozen exposure notices and stress levels are running high in that area.

“These are the communities where there’s a high level of community spread,” she says. “In fact, all the health authorities are seeing many more exposure notifications going to schools.”

She’s once again asking Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to extend B.C.’s mandatory mask mandate into classrooms.

“We continue to call on the government to do the right thing; to expand the mask mandate that is already present to include classrooms both at the elementary level and at the secondary school level.”

She’s also asking that class sizes be capped at 15 students, especially in schools within the Fraser Health region.

“We see this as really important because we’re concerned that this number of exposure notices will ultimately lead to more in-school transmissions,” says Mooring.

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“All this obviously weighs very heavily on teachers as they try to protect their students in an environment where it feels like there are not enough protective measures in place,” she says, adding she’s hearing specifically from teachers, who are at risk of serious COVID-19 complications, that they don’t feel supported.

Mooring says we are asking a lot of teachers right now and one way to lighten the load on their shoulders would be to reduce their responsibilities, such as administering standardized tests.

She adds, it’s an especially difficult time for educators who have been pulling double duty, supporting both virtual and in-person learning, despite assurances from the province that would not happen.