FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The British Columbia Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) has expressed some concerns regarding the K-12 Restart Plan that was released on July 29th.
The Federation’s leadership and 25 classroom teachers have been working with the Government’s steering committee to make the plan better. President of the BCTF, Teri Mooring, says that some proper steps have been taken, like adding more time at the beginning of the school year, but some of the prominent teacher concerns have yet to be addressed.
“BC teachers fully support the ongoing efforts of all the education partner groups to get students back to learning as soon as possible,” said Mooring. “In an ideal situation, back to learning would mean all schools are safe for 100% of students, teachers, and support staff to return all at once. However, the sharp rise in active COVID-19 cases has many people worried that the government has not done enough to ensure teachers, students, and their families are safe.”
According to Mooring, some members are concerned that not enough is being done in regards to preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in schools and that B.C. should be looking at a remote learning model that allows for both in-class and remote learning.
Mooring also says that teachers and support staff will be in classrooms with up to 30 students without the physical barriers, capacity limits, or face coverings that we’ve grown accustomed to in other workplaces or public places like the dentist or grocery stores. In most cases, physical distancing is not possible in these classrooms, not to mention some schools have outdated ventilation systems.
The BCTF is asking the government to implement the following:
- smaller classroom sizes to allow for physical distancing
- a remote learning option that allows the child to remain connected to their school with access to the full range of supports and services
- dedicated funding for improvements to school ventilation and HVAC systems
- adults and students over ten years of age to be required to wear face coverings when physical distancing is not possible unless a medical condition prevents them from doing so
- schools and worksites retrofitted with physical barriers for safety when physical distancing is not feasible
- additional funding for additional cleaning of high touch surfaces
- accommodations for any teachers who are immunocompromised or have chronic health conditions