September is a time of great excitement for students and their parents—but this year is different. The Delta variant is different. 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.
But, given what we know about the highly transmissible variant, and that our students under 12 are ineligible to be vaccinated as a means of protection, we need to take a cautious approach when we return to school next week. The government has mandated mask-wearing in schools for adults and students in Grades 4 and up, but that’s not enough to keep everyone safe.
Parents, we need your help to protect all students in BC’s K-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 3.
We are also encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. It’s important that everyone from all our communities in B.C. take this important step to help better protect those children who are not yet eligible for vaccinations.
We know 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. Our school communities have a lot of experience making sure everyone is included and treated with respect.
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. 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.
B.C.’s teachers care deeply about our students, your children, and are committed to providing them with supportive and enriching learning environments. We also need them to be safe, and you can help make that possible.
Thank you for your support.
President, BC Teachers’ Federation
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