Vancouver – The BC Teachers Federation has launched a new campaign to increase the use of face masks in BC classrooms.
The BCTF took matters into its own hands after Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry expelled schools from BC’s new mask order.
On Saturday, the teachers ‘union posted on social media asking for parents’ help in fostering a “mask-wearing culture.”
The tweet reads, “We must do all we can to keep each other safe. By talking to your child about wearing masks, you can make a very big difference. ”
The request comes after five Covid-19 exposure letters were sent to BC families on Saturday, including five schools in Surrey: Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth and Enver Creek Secondary Schools, as well as Walnut Road and Coast Meridian Primary Schools.
Rani Senghera, of the Surrey District Parent Advisory Council, said parents want to help teachers.
“Parents wanted masks to be mandatory in schools,” she said. “I think it’s important to start from home because parents will probably have a greater impact on their children.”
Sengera said the PAC recently conducted a survey of nearly 3,000 parents, 60 per cent of whom believe children of all ages should wear masks, 15 per cent believe it should only be for those aged four and over, and five per cent. This should be for secondary students only.
20 percent think the current plan is adequate.
Calls for a mask order from teachers and parents are not new, and Henry defended his decision to exclude schools from the new policy when it was announced Thursday.
“Schools are not open, public places, you can’t walk to school,” she said at the time. “I don’t wear a mask sitting at my office. We do not expect children to wear masks sitting at their desks all day. ”
Julia McRae of the Surrey Teachers’ Association said teachers were concerned about catching the virus in schools and believed masks were mandatory.
“We want to be safe at work and with a large group of people in relatively small spaces it doesn’t mean we are different than other buildings,” she says.
Currently, students are required to wear masks in common areas such as the hallway, but are not required to wear them while in the classroom.
In response, BCTF has also created a new poster for teachers to hang in the classroom: In this classroom, please wear masks.
“The school system has been completely reorganized with coordination, but it’s not a prevention plan, it’s a contact-tracing plan. All we need is a prevention plan,” McRae said.