The president of the BC Teachers' Federation says the province needs to do more to ensure classrooms are safe.
Teri Mooring made the statement during a press conference on the eve of the start of a new school year.
"Teachers are excited about starting a new school year as they always are," said Mooring.
"There is a cloud hanging over this year of course. We had hoped there would be more of a focus on preventative measures in schools this year, more protective measures would be in place."
Instead, she says the BCTF is fighting for the health and safety measures it believes should be in place.
Mooring says protections being put in place at schools across the province are less than they were a year ago.
"No cohorts, no social distancing, no daytime custodians, no exposure notifications, no limits to school visitors."
Mooring says the BCTF is calling on the government to institute a number of safety and preventative measures she says are being used in other jurisdictions, and are backed up by ample evidence and research.
- Expand the mask mandate to include students from K-3.
- Ensure school-based vaccination clinics are available to all 12 to 17-year-olds.
- Quick completion to the school ventilation system upgrades, and a public reporting of those upgrades.
- Ensure a comprehensive testing strategy is in place, including asymptomatic testing across the school system.
- Ensure public data regarding the status of COVID-19 in schools is available.
Mooring says, unlike last year, exposure notifications will not be sent to entire school communities, nor will they be posted on websites.
"What is very important is that public reporting of data actually reduces people's concerns."
Mooring says she believes the measures the BCTF is calling for will make schools safer for families, teachers, and other education workers and put their minds at ease.