BC Teachers Union letter to Bonnie Henry calls out "lack of transparency" in schools

Oct 1 2020, 9:52 am

A recent letter to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has raised concerns over the reporting of COVID-19 cases in BC schools.

Teri Mooring, President of the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) penned the letter to talk about “the lack of transparency and consistency across health authorities in reporting” coronavirus cases in schools.

“Teachers, support staff, and administrative staff are all doing our utmost to keep children and their families safe,” Mooring writes. “But, without timely information, our efforts are significantly hampered.”

Mooring argues that some health authorities, such as Fraser Health, provide up-to-date and full information, while others fail to do so. She points out that Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has only posted a single exposure, despite reports of multiple other cases across Vancouver, Richmond, and the North Shore.

Ensuring that such information is shared openly, she says, would maintain confidence in both the education system and in health authorities.

The letter also expresses concern over the, “different approaches to contact tracing.”

“We feel strongly that teachers need to be a part of the contact tracing process when a student is diagnosed with COVID-19,” Mooring says.

“In classroom settings, teachers and other education workers come into close contact with students when they circulate to support student learning, and teachers are a source of
additional information in identifying close contacts of individual students.”

She also argues that the different approaches taken by health authorities, especially when it comes to communication, create an inconsistency, and in turn, “confusion and heightened concern amongst the school community.”

Ultimately, the BCTF asks Henry to report on and contextualize any school-based cases and exposures.

“It would go a long way to assuaging the deep concerns and anxieties of teachers and parents,” says Mooring.

Vincent PlanaVincent Plana

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