Pressure increased on the provincial government last week to pay more attention to COVID in schools.
“There is no denying that teachers are stressed, anxious, and even afraid. We do not have the layers of protection in our schools that exist in other environments,” said Richard Overgaard, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation in a statement.
“If teachers are not prioritized for a vaccine, this government must take immediate action to improve safety measures in our schools. We must have a mandatory mask mandate, we must have better physical distancing measures, and we must have ventilation upgrades for our classrooms. Schools need the same safety measures as every single other workplace. This government and school districts must do more.”
Richard Jensen, president of the Local 17 Princeton District Teachers’ Union, echoed those concerns in a statement to the Spotlight.
“It is clear that teachers, parents, and students alike are confused by directives from the public health office which create guidelines for schools that are very different than other public spaces.
“Our office regularly fields questions and concerns about this apparent disconnect. Masks and social distancing have become a normal part of everyday life in places like the grocery store, or the post office. Yet in the classroom, where social distancing is virtually impossible, masks are not a requirement.”
Jensen said teachers are having to choose between their health and their careers.
“This is especially worrisome for teachers with pre-existing health conditions, or who live with family members that are immune compromised.
“In the midst of these pressures, they are also deeply concerned for the health and safety of their students.”
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