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COVID-19 variant case in B.C. has teachers concerned about classroom spread: union

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Dec 28, 2020 at 8:09 am PST

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Summary

The BC Teachers Federation says it will be pushing harder for protective measures in classrooms

Intensified calls come as the UK strain of COVID-19 reaches Britsih Columbia

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Now that a case of the new COVID-19 variant has been identified in B.C., teachers are renewing their call for more protective measures in schools.

The first case in the province was announced Sunday.

Teri Mooring, president of the BC Teachers Federation, says she knows this will intensify parents, students, and teachers’ concerns about transmission in schools. One of the chief concerns Mooring has is due to some data that suggests the newly-identified strain may be more transmissible among children.

“I know the concerns are already high before anyone even knew about this new variant, and certainly before it’s manifested in [Canada],” she says.

“I would expect everyone in the system, including governments, to be at a heightened state of concern about the potential ramifications of the variants.”

But while there is still a lot to be learned about how the variant spreads, Mooring says the priority remains containing the virus.

“I’m sure that everyone shares a concern and nobody wants to see a rampant spread.”

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Mooring adds that the teacher’s union will continue pushing for a mandatory mask policy in all schools in the province, and to call for reducing class density to facilitate physical distancing.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health says it is monitoring travellers in B.C. who have recently arrived from the UK.

“Genetic analysis is being performed to identify if there have been previous or new cases associated with this variant,” the statement reads.

“We will continue to do everything we can to keep people and communities safe and may consider further action to reduce non-essential travel as the situation evolves.”

The ministry adds, the new strain is a reminder to be vigilant and follow provincial health orders, “especially as we are rolling out our immunization program for the most vulnerable people in BC, including many frontline health care workers.”