When the government first announced their K-12 restart plan on July 29, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) expressed significant concerns that the plan needed more work. Despite extensive work by the Federation’s leadership and 25 classroom teachers on the government’s steering committee and working groups, some of teacher’s biggest concerns have yet to be addressed.
Across the province, most teachers and students are now back in classrooms. To understand their experiences, and to continue to advocate for the health and safety measures necessary to keep our school communities safe, the BCTF conducted a quick poll of members. The poll was open from September 17 to 21 and were received from all but two school districts. The poll gathered 8,952 responses, representing classroom teachers (70%), specialist teachers (21%), teachers teaching on call (5%) and other teaching positions.
Health and safety measures in schools are inadequate
95% of respondents have returned to in-person instruction since September 8, 2020. Of these, only 7% report that health and safety measures at their work site are completely adequate.
Solid hybrid and remote options require appropriate accommodations
The BCTF has been demanding hybrid and remote options in every school district to help reduce class sizes and school density, as well as to protect students and staff members, or their families, who are more vulnerable because of existing health concerns. However, among the quick poll respondents who reported that they have not returned to in-person instruction, only 6% reported receiving an accommodation to work from home.
Of those who have not received an accommodation and have not returned to in-person instruction: 60% are teachers teaching on call; 21% are using sick leave; 13% are on an unpaid leave; 6% are on a different paid leave.
Solid hybrid and remote options should engage teachers teaching on call, as well as teachers who need accommodations for health reasons, to ensure that all students stay safe and remain connected to their school.