Teachers throughout BC are
relieved to learn that the province has strengthened their position on mask-wearing
in schools, with students in Grades 4 to 12 now required to wear their masks
full-time while at school, and mask-wearing strongly encouraged among younger
students in kindergarten to Grade 3.
“Despite some vague wording,
we have been assured by the Ministry of Education that today’s announcement equates
to a province-wide expansion of the orders that were introduced in Surrey over
the weekend,” said BCTF President Teri Mooring. “Our sincere thanks go out to the
many teachers and parents who have advocated tirelessly to get this safety
measure in place as an added layer of protection for teachers and students.”
Though teachers welcome this
enhanced mask mandate, there is still much more that needs to be done to reduce
the risk of in-school transmission. In particular, we know there are schools
with inadequate ventilation systems, in these cases classrooms need portable
ventilation systems provided by districts. Additionally hybrid learning options
need to be available to school districts to allow for adequate physical distancing,
especially where there are high levels of community transmission of the virus.
“Our unwavering advocacy has
delivered some of the results we have been seeking, and now it’s time to shift
our focus to the remaining health and safety concerns in schools throughout the
province,” Mooring added.
The BC Teachers’ Federation encourages
teachers and parents to engage their respective MLAs and voice outstanding
concerns over inadequate ventilation and an inability to physically distance
with current class sizes.