‘Unrealistic’: Critics Criticize COVID-19 Announcement of British Columbia’s Back to School Starring Dr. Bonnie Henry


A new BC government-produced ad featuring provincial health administrator Dr. Bonnie Henry gets bad marks from the BC Teachers’ Federation.The 30-second spot is for parents and students returning to class next month under new COVID-19 protocols.

In the announcement, Henry goes over some of the precautions that will be in place: frequent hand washing, student learning cohorts, and the use of masks in certain situations.

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Union president Teri Mooring said the ad did not paint a clear picture of what schools will look like.

“It saddens me that Dr. Henry was used in this ad,” she says.

“Unfortunately, this is a really unrealistic portrayal of what classrooms are going to look like. They won’t have seven children in them. There are a lot of classrooms without sinks.

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Mooring said many classrooms did not have windows that opened and questioned the quality of ventilation in others. She said she wanted to see handwashing stations in all classrooms, but some of them may only have hand sanitizer.

The union insisted that classes be smaller and that all children in grades 4 and up be required to wear masks in classrooms.

Currently, older students and teachers will only need to wear them in high traffic areas.

Government emphasizes classroom learning in new back to school plans

Government emphasizes classroom learning in new back to school plans

“We’re going to see classrooms with desks close together, with kids close together,” Mooring said.

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“In this ad, we didn’t see 30 to 32 17-year-olds. It is regrettable. “

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In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said the announcement was intended to build confidence in “the strict health and safety measures that are in place to protect students and staff” and to show that they have been developed in partnership with public health.

“In order to film the announcement, the number of students in the room was limited for health and safety reasons and the children were placed at a safe distance from each other,” the statement said.

“The team worked closely with (the) school principal to ensure that the office location realistically reflected the classroom set up for the coming year.”

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Education Minister Rob Fleming has argued that the province’s mask policy is based on the best advice from health officials on how to prevent transmission.

The New Democrat government also maintains that the class size is the lowest in years.

British Columbia Liberal MP and education critic Dan Davies, himself a former teacher, said the ad did not reflect the reality of today’s classrooms.

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“It was not a full classroom. And I think that’s the real deaf song, ”he says.

“It doesn’t really reflect what’s going on there. People are nervous, families are nervous. There is a lot of anxiety about the back-to-school plan which, the biggest issue here is not really a plan.

The ad also drew criticism online, with many social media users claiming the classroom setting used was unrealistic.

Others pointed out that the only child seen wearing a mask in the ad was Asian.

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Students will return to class on September 10, with elementary students grouped into learning groups of 60 or fewer and high school students in groups of 120 or fewer.

COVID-19 security plans will otherwise vary by district. Some districts have opted for hybrid in-person and online models and a number have opted for a “neighborhood system” for high school students.

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