BCTF urges Fraser Health to improve safety standards in schools

Jan 8 2021, 3:05 pm

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is calling on the Fraser Health Authority to increase and improve health and safety standards in schools.

“This week, tens of thousands of public school employees and hundreds and thousands of public school students returned to school after a two-week winter break,” reads a statement from the BCTF.

The group says that while families had a chance to limit exposure to COVID-19 over the winter, now that school has resumed, “they once again face the daily risk of exposure.”

“We’re speaking out together in solidarity for those members who are working in the schools where health and safety standards are inadequate, inconsistent, or unsafe.”

One issue at hand, according to the BCTF, is ensuring that contact tracing remains timely.

“Some exposure notices arrive near the end of the two-week monitoring period, too late to help anyone.”

The union is also calling for better measures inside the classroom, such as reducing capacity to improve physical distancing and making masks mandatory in all indoor spaces, rather than just shared common areas.

“Across the Fraser Health region, mask use is inconsistent, cohorts easily break down, and there is little room for physical distancing,” the BCTF argues.

“As a result, the layers of protection do not exist in many of our schools like they do in most other indoor public places.”

The BCTF is also urging Fraser Health to prioritize the vaccination of educators and school staff, and create a “clear definition” of what’s considered an outbreak in schools.

Earlier this week, the Surrey School District announced a cluster of nearly 50 COVID-19 cases linked to Earl Marriott Secondary.

The BCTF adds that prior to the winter break, a 90-student cohort at AD Rundle Middle School was ordered to self-isolate. And out of the 31 school sites in Delta, 24 of them have had exposures.

“More needs to be done to improve preventative measures,” the union stresses. “Many schools in the Fraser Health region are not safe enough and the status quo is unacceptable.”

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