British Columbia

BCTF says more needs to be done to protect teachers and students in Fraser Health

BCTF statement calls for more to be done on contact tracing, masks mandates, physical distancing and for clarity on when an outbreak is declared. They also want teachers and school staff “appropriately prioritized to receive vaccinations as soon as possible.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry has said schools are not a significant source of transmission

Twleve BCTF union presidents represening teachers in the Fraser Health region have signed a letter, saying many schools in the region are just not safe enough and the status quo is unacceptable. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The B.C. Teachers' Federation is calling for more protection from the coronavirus for schools in the Fraser Health region.

In a statement, 12 local union presidents representing teachers working in the region said they want to see better contact tracing, less density to allow physical distancing in classes, mandatory masks indoors, clarity on the threshold for declaring a school outbreak and for school staff to be be "appropriately prioritized to receive vaccinations as soon as possible."

"We're speaking out together in solidarity for those members who are working in the schools where health and safety standards are inadequate, inconsistent or unsafe," the local presidents said.

"Many schools in the Fraser Health region are not safe enough and the status quo is unacceptable."

Fraser Health has been the health region hardest-hit by the coronavirus. 

The federation says across schools in the region, mask use is inconsistent, learning cohorts are breaking down and physical distancing is difficult or impossible in too-crowded facilities.

Students are pictured during a break at Earl Marriott Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Teachers have spoken out about mask and physical distancing concerns in the past.

While B.C. schools have seen numerous exposure events — defined by Fraser Health as "a single person with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection who attended school during their infectious period" — Provincial health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said schools have not been a major source of transmission.

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