BC teachers call on parents for help with growing concerns over COVID-19

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VANCOUVER – The BC Teachers’ Federation has created new campaigns to help increase the use of face masks in BC classrooms. The BCTF took matters into its own hands after provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry excluded schools from British Columbia’s new mask mandate.

On Saturday, the teachers’ union announced on social media that it was asking parents for help to help foster a “mask-wearing culture.”

The tweet reads, “We have to do whatever we can to make sure we protect each other. By talking to your children about wearing masks, you can make a big difference. ”

The advocacy comes after more COVID-19 exposure letters were sent to families across British Columbia on Saturday, including for five schools in Surrey: Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth and Enver Creek High Schools, as well as Walnut Road and Coast Meridian Elementary Schools.

Rani Senghera, of the Surrey District Parent Advisory Council, said parents wanted to help teachers.

“Parents wanted masks to be compulsory in schools as well,” she said. “I think it’s important to leave home because parents probably have the greatest influence over their children.”

Senghera said PAC recently surveyed nearly 3,000 parents and found that 60% of them think children of all ages should wear masks, while 15% think it should only be for those in fourth grade and up, and 5% think it should only be for high school students.

About 20% think the current plan is sufficient.

Calls for a mask mandate from teachers and parents are nothing new, and Henry defended her decision to exclude schools from the new policy when she announced it on Thursday.

“Schools are not public spaces, open spaces, you cannot enter a school,” she said at the time. “I wouldn’t wear a mask sitting at my desk. We don’t expect kids to wear masks sitting at their desks all day. ”

Julia MacRae, of the Surrey Teachers Association, said teachers feared catching the virus in schools and believed masks should be mandatory.

“We want to be safe at work, so it doesn’t make sense for us that with such a large group of people in relatively small spaces it would be different from other buildings,” she said.

Currently, students are required to wear masks in common areas, such as hallways, but do not need to wear them when in class.

In response, the BCTF also created a new poster that teachers can put up in classrooms that reads: In this class, please wear masks.

“The school system has been completely reorganized into cohorts, but it’s not a prevention plan, it’s a contact tracing plan. What we want is a prevention plan, ”McRae said.



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