As teachers moved into the third school year impacted by the pandemic, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) wanted to construct a general picture of members’ perceptions of health and safety, focusing on key health and safety measures, including vaccination.
The preliminary report of the 2021 Fall BCTF Health and Safety Membership Survey, released October 22, 2021, summarized key provincial findings in four key themes.
1. There are ongoing gaps in measures to keep everyone safe in BC schools. Teachers have different perspectives as to how safe they feel in schools, and how adequate they feel health and safety measures are for keeping everyone in our school communities safe. Eighteen months into the pandemic, 50.7% of teachers feel that health and safety precautions in their workplace are not adequate for keeping everyone safe.
2. The pandemic has negatively affected teachers’ well-being. Teachers in BC continue to report that their mental and physical health has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. The experience of teaching during a pandemic is exacerbating already acute recruitment and retention challenges. Over a quarter of teachers in BC (27.0%) report that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more likely that they will leave teaching within the next two years.
4. BC teachers are doing their part to keep everyone safe. Vaccination rates are very high among BC public school teachers, with 94.1% of teachers reporting that they are fully vaccinated.
The 2021 Fall BCTF Health and Safety Membership Survey – Regional health authority report expands on these themes at the level of the five Regional Health Authorities in BC: Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver Island Health, Interior Health, and Northern Health.
Parents and teachers look to their district and local health authority for information about what’s happening in their schools. While many health and safety measures apply across the province, differences in community transmission may necessitate regionally appropriate safety measures.
The methodology used for the 2021 Fall BCTF Health and Safety Membership survey included a sample size that enabled gathering representative data at the regional health authority level (see report Appendix A for more about the methodology). As such, this report contributes valuable insight into teacher perspectives on pandemic-related measures within specific regions of the province.