Majority of parents in Saanich and Victoria want their kids back in school

WatchWhile survey results from two of the Island's largest school districts indicate the majority of parents want their children back in school, not all teachers say they are ready to go back. Mary Griffin reports.

In just over a week, kids across Vancouver Island head back to school.

The majority of parents in at least two districts are happy about that.

Ninety per cent of parents in Saanich and 80 per cent in Victoria say they want their kids back in class full-time, according to surveys conducted by the districts.

Shelley Green, superintendent for the Greater Victoria School District No. 61, said she was not surprised with the results, especially after the release of the province’s back-to-school plan.

“So we had roughly 13,400 respondents to our survey. And amongst those 13,000 people that actually responded, roughly, 80 per cent want full back in school,” Green said.

But while parents are OK with school resuming, some teachers are not according to Tara Ehrcke.

She works as a teacher on call but is also the former president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association.

“I myself would support job action to ensure safety for everybody in the system,” she said.

Ehrcke said to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, she and her colleagues want class sizes reduced, and more teachers hired. And many teachers are ready to walk.

“It’s not just a matter of a pay increase that’s like potentially your own health or your family’s health on the line,” Ehrcke said.

The province is already spending $46 million to help school districts implement safety measures. And on Wednesday Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, announced the provincial government spend an extra $2 million for mental health programs in B.C. schools.

“Integrated youth and child teams are really a leading-edge approach to better mental health and substance use care for young people,” Darcy said.

But some teachers remain unconvinced classrooms can be made safe from COVID-19.

“And so, you know, my feeling is it’s likely only a matter of time-based on increasing numbers now that we’re gonna see that happening,” Ehrcke said.

School is scheduled to begin on Sept. 10 for all students.  There are different back-to-school plans depending on the district.

READ MORE: B.C. reports 104 new COVID-19 cases, 3 new cases in Island Health

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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