Powell River teachers echo British Columbia Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring in encouraging all students to be masked and for those 12 and over to be vaccinated.
“We want to make schools as safe as possible for those unable to wear masks and for the younger students who cannot yet be vaccinated,” said Powell River and District Teachers’ Association president Izi Loveluck. “Teachers will do everything they can to make students feel safe and to teach them what they need to know.”
Loveluck said it is very encouraging that School District 47 is again working collaboratively and is putting in place safety plans that take a measured approach to the start of the school year.
“Once these plans are in place, they will be reviewed on an ongoing basis,” said Loveluck.
Mooring, in an open letter to BC parents, stated September is a time of great excitement for students and their parents—but this year is different.
“The delta variant is different,” stated Mooring. “There is still excitement, but there is also uncertainty.
“In recent weeks, we have heard unprecedented levels of concern and anxiety from many parents around the safety of our schools. We also recognize that, for others, COVID-19 still doesn’t feel like a significant threat.”
Mooring said that given what is known about the highly transmissible variant, and that students under 12 are ineligible to be vaccinated as a means of protection, a cautious approach needs to be taken when returning to school next week.
“The government has mandated mask-wearing in schools for adults and students in grades four and up, but that’s not enough to keep everyone safe,” stated Mooring. “Parents, we need your help to protect all students in BC’s kindergarten to grade 12 learning environments. This means ensuring your child gets vaccinated if they are eligible and supporting a culture of mask-wearing for all students who are able, including those in kindergarten to grade three.
“We are also encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. It’s important that everyone from all our communities in BC take this important step to help better protect those children who are not yet eligible for vaccinations.”
Mooring stated that there are students and staff members who, for various reasons, are exempt from wearing masks. There are also some learning situations where masks aren’t appropriate, she added. School communities have a lot of experience making sure everyone is included and treated with respect, according to Mooring.
“Let’s foster kindness and consideration by talking to our children and teens about the importance of each of us doing our part to keep everyone safe, both in and out of schools,” stated Mooring. “Though our own kids might have relatively strong immune systems, their classmates or teachers could have immunocompromised family members at home.
“As the school year progresses, health authorities and school districts can make regional adjustments based on timely data about transmission in schools and their surrounding communities. Please join us in making sure your MLAs and school boards know that parents and teachers stand together in expecting regionally appropriate safety measures and transparent communication around in-school exposures and transmission data.”