Anxiety high for parents and teachers with school around the corner
VICTORIA -- It’s exactly three weeks before kids go back to school and anxiety, along with uncertainty, are high amongst parents and children in B.C.
A recent poll from Leger indicates that most of the parents in the province who were surveyed plan to send their kids back to school, but 75 per cent of them are worried about doing so.
What’s more, 36 per cent of parents haven't decided whether to send their kids back to school, although full-time, in-classroom learning for children in Grades K through 12 is the main plan offered by the province.
The province’s Education Minister, Rob Fleming, reacted to those concerns Wednesday.
“The way we respond to that is to build confidence in a safe plan,” Fleming said. “We’ve said we’re a science-led government. The provincial health office has guided our plan for a restart to school every step of the way.”
But on Wednesday, teachers expressed their concern with the safety of that plan, demanding that the province’s mask policy be expanded — to make them mandatory for students as young as 10 years old and require that they be worn throughout schools, including in classrooms.
The BC Teachers Federation’s president, Teri Mooring, also pushed for smaller class sizes, to allow for better physical distancing.
“There is no classroom density or school density targets anymore, it’s 100 per cent return, so that means 30 students in a classroom is something we are going to see across this entire province, and there is no possible way to physically distance in a class of 30 students,” Mooring told CTV.
Fleming said the government has already invested to reduce class sizes, prior to the pandemic.
He also maintains that the province’s mask policy – which was introduced Monday and requires that masks be worn by teachers and staff, along with students in middle and high school, but only in spots like hallways and not classrooms – is safe.
“That’s the scientific public health that we’ve received,” he said. “It’s very consistent with the approach being taken by the vast number of provinces and territories in the country.“
Fleming also noted that if there is a second wave or outbreaks of COVID-19 in the fall, it could be dealt with regionally, meaning some schools could keep students in classrooms while others don't.
“There could be even an approach within a district if you have an outbreak, but certainly we can do that regionally in B.C.,” Fleming said.