VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Now that a case of the new COVID-19 variant has been identified in British Columbia, teachers are renewing their call for additional protective measures in schools.
The first case in the province was announced on Sunday.
Teri Mooring, president of the BC Teachers Federation, says she knows this will intensify the concerns of parents, students and teachers about transmission in schools. One of Mooring’s main concerns is due to some data suggesting that the newly identified strain may be more transmissible in children.
“I know that concerns are already high before anyone knows about this new variant, and certainly before it shows up in [Canada], ” she says.
“I would expect everyone in the system, including governments, to be more concerned about the potential ramifications of the variants.”
But while there is still much to be learned about how the variant spreads, Mooring says the priority remains to contain the virus.
“I’m sure everyone shares a concern and no one wants to see widespread spread.”
Mooring adds that the teachers’ union will continue to push for a mandatory mask policy in all schools across the province and to call for reduced class density to facilitate physical distancing.
In a statement, the Department of Health says it is monitoring travelers to British Columbia who have recently arrived from the UK.
“A genetic analysis is done to identify if there have been any previous or new cases associated with this variant,” the statement read.
“We will continue to do all we can to keep people and communities safe, and we may consider other measures to reduce non-essential displacement as the situation evolves.
The ministry adds that the new strain reminds us to be vigilant and follow provincial health ordinances, “especially as we roll out our immunization program to the most vulnerable people in British Columbia, including included many frontline health workers.