BC teachers’ union calls for school closure on Monday due to smoke from wildfire and threat of COVID-19

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The BC teachers’ union tweeted on Sunday evening that schools are expected to be closed on Monday due to the combined threat of wildfire smoke, which is affecting air quality, and the COVID pandemic -19.The BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) says it wants the province and other health officials to step in and keep teachers and students at home.

“The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and extremely poor air quality from wildfires is of deep concern for #bced,” the post said. “Teachers and students should not be in crowded classrooms without ventilation and fresh air. “

A request for an interview with the BCTF to further explain its concerns about the presence of teachers and students in class on Monday was not immediately returned Sunday evening.

Smoke from forest fires drifting northward from the western United States has blanketed much of British Columbia since last week and has resulted in poor visibility and poor air quality.

Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, for example, have been the subject of an air quality advisory for almost a week.

Schools will open

For many students in the province, Monday will be the first full day of instruction. Last week, many schools held orientation sessions to educate students on how the year is going in the face of the continuing threat of a pandemic.

Educators have worked to put in place protocols such as staggered start times, improved cleaning protocols, and physical distancing to protect schools from coronavirus infections.

Major school districts such as Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria posted messages on their websites on Sunday saying that schools would be open Monday and that precautions would be taken to protect students and staff from poor air quality.

Some of these steps include avoiding physical education outdoors, keeping students smoke-sensitive indoors, and keeping exterior windows closed.

“Our school district is closely monitoring the situation and consulting with the Department of Education and our public health experts to ensure that our schools continue to be safe environments for our staff and students,” the school district said. from Surrey.

The Greater Victoria School District said it hopes conditions will improve on Sunday night.

Forecasters expect air quality from wildfire smoke to start improving on Sunday evening, with full clearance in the coming days.

The Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.



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