Thousands sign petition demanding winter break extension for B.C. students

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WatchParents across the province Sunday night were getting everything from backpacks to clothes ready for the first day of school in 2021, but some are making a last-minute urgent plea to extend the break. It comes as cases still remain high and a new strain of COVID-19 arrives. Julian Kolsut has this story.

On Sunday parents across B.C. were getting their kids ready for the first day of school in 2021.

“I think they need to be in school, and I think especially the learning part and social part, they are not going to succeed if they are not in there,” said Sidney parent Carolyn Orchard.

But some worry about what other families got up to during the holidays during the pandemic.”

“In the back of my mind, I’ve had a little bit of a concern people have gotten together at Christmas and new years and not followed the rules,” said Vancouver area parent Rosemary Cooper.

Almost 50,000 people signed an online petition to extend winter break for two weeks, as COVID-19 cases still remain high and a new highly infectious COVID-19 strain arrives.

But the province’s top doctor has maintained that schools are safe.

“Of the over 120,000 school-aged children, about 600 children or staff were in the school’s system diagnosed with COVID-19 and in Vancouver Coastal health,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Dec. 23, 2020.

“Less than 200 of those resulted in exposure events in schools, and they had transmission in about 10 per cent to about one or two people in the school setting.”

The Ministry of Education backing that up today saying transmission rates remain very low in schools.

But the British Columbia Teachers Federation said on Twitter that many teachers and parents are rightly worried. They are calling for a better mask mandate and reduced density.

The idea of keeping kids home again is a scary one for both Orchard and others. One of her sons is already needing extra help after the last sudden break.

“He is on a reading recovery program,” she said. “I’m not a teacher, I can’t teach the way teachers are teaching in school… [and] how are people going to get childcare?”

With less than a day to go, it looks like students will be back in the class Monday.

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