The Ministry of Education has issued a statement in response to a petition against the reopening of schools in British Columbia.
A petition was started by a Vancouver mother with a child in elementary school, who was concerned about the medical impact of sending kids back to school next month.
“We’re sending our kids back to school so early in this pandemic, without enough information to really know what we’re putting our children at risk for,” Patricia Cullen told Daily Hive in an interview.
“As a parent, I’m very aware that children are the fastest, best, most efficient way to respread the virus,” she added. “They’re far too young to maintain the level of sanitizing required, it makes no sense to me.”
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The petition has amassed over 4,000 signatures as of Tuesday, May 19, at 3 pm, with dozens of comments from concerned parents and teachers.
In a statement to Daily Hive, the Ministry of Education has responded to the concerns of parents, stating that they understand the anxiety some are feeling.
“The Provincial Health Officer has advised that it is safe for us to move to this stage of opening schools. If it wasn’t safe to do so, we wouldn’t be opening them. The health and safety of staff and students is our top priority,” reads the statement.
“That is why we are taking a measured, gradual approach to transitioning more students back into the classroom. Parents have the choice of bringing their children back to class part-time this school year or continuing with learning remotely.”
Schools in BC will reduce the number of students in school each day, and most students will receive in-class instruction part-time.
In announcing the reopening of schools, Education Minister Rob Fleming noted that the return “won’t be back to the school life was before the pandemic,” adding that there “will be strict health and safety standards in place.”
“Today, there are already about 5,000 children in BC schools, these include children of essential service workers and those who need the extra support that a school setting provides,” reads the statement from the Ministry of Education.
“The science and research so far tell us that children under 19 are at low risk of transmitting COVID-19 and suspending schools only has modest impacts in minimizing the spread of the virus.”
In addition, all school boards and independent schools will need to have return-to-school plans approved by the Ministry of Education.
“We are fortunate BC has had tremendous success flattening the curve and an important step towards recovery, is getting more kids safely back into classrooms.
“It’s important for students to have this opportunity to reconnect with their school communities as the school year winds down, before paving the way for September.”