Stricter COVID-19 security measures on BC campuses required for fall return – .

Stricter COVID-19 security measures on BC campuses required for fall return – .

BURNABY (CityNews) – Post-secondary students, unions and faculty across British Columbia demand tougher COVID-19 safety measures before returning to campus in the fall, saying current guidelines are not enough good – especially given the growing number of cases and the Delta variant.

With a little over a month before the resumption of classes, an open letter written by the Union of Teaching Support Staff (TSSU) of SFU asks for mandatory masks, occupancy limits in classrooms, better ventilation and rapid testing.

British Columbia’s current guidelines, released in July, do not require any of these things, with the province planning to be in Stage 4 of the reopening plan by September 7.

RELATED: Some BC University Students and Instructors Worried About Fall Restrictions Relaxed

TSSU chief steward Katie Gravestock says the situation in the province has changed dramatically since July.

“We have become used to having basic security protocols in place such as mandatory ground for indoor environments, physical distance and occupancy limits for shared spaces and none of these security protocols are in place with these guidelines that have been published, ”she said.

“Now unfortunately it looks like we are in a fourth wave or entering a fourth wave with very high COVID numbers in British Columbia. With what we now know about the Delta variant and how transmissible it is, I think it’s really important that we make sure we have high vaccination rates, along with a tightening of these safety protocols. “

Although the letter is sent to the university leadership, Gravestock says the hope is that the action will come from the provincial government.

“We only have one month now, so we need to have the opportunity to make sure universities are safe for students and workers,” she said.

“We really hope that by having a lot of different unions on different campuses, and students, workers’ and faculty associations, and other groups signing this open letter, it will put some pressure on the provincial government. “

While many eagerly await a return to in-person learning, Gravestock says there is growing anxiety.

“I think it made people a lot more uncomfortable a long time ago because we got used to having basic security protocols in place,” she says.

As of Thursday, the province had 81.7% of eligible British Columbians with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 68.4% with two doses. On the same day, 402 new infections were recorded – the highest number on a single day since May.

RELATED: ‘Wave of Unvaccinated Cases’: British Columbia Records 402 New COVID-19 Infections, Highest Since May 21

Andrew Longhurst, a doctoral student at SFU who supports the letter’s requirements, says vaccination alone is not enough to keep the campus healthy and safe.

“What we are seeing in British Columbia across Canada across the world is that we need both high levels of immunization, and we also need public health measures,” he says,

“I think at the end of the day we need that provincial leadership, we need guidelines to really put in place measures that we know work, that are evidence-based, and that will prevent harm. infections and prevent epidemics and the possibility that campuses could become sites of super spread. “

However, in the absence of revised guidelines from the province, he believes university leadership has a role to play in introducing campus-specific rules.

“If the province does not act, then we need the universities to step up. They have an obligation and a responsibility to their students, their staff, the academic community at large – and indeed the general public. We know that campuses are not islands, that they are very connected to their communities and that people come in and out of different spaces of their community. “

A spokesperson for SFU said the letter was under review.


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