Schools could become COVID’s playground if province doesn’t act, says researchers

Schools could become COVID's playground if province doesn't act, says researchers
WatchWith the school year just a couple of weeks away, the concerning COVID-19 fourth wave has many asking 'what's the plan?' Kori Sidaway has more.

In just under three weeks, it’s back to school.

But as B.C. battles its fourth wave, researchers are predicting kids may become the majority of cases.

That has some calling for immediate action including the leader of the B.C. Green Party.

“There is a government responsibility to be proactive at a time like this when we are seeing an exponential rise in cases again,” said Sonia Furstenau.

“We cannot rely entirely on vaccinations when we have a whole segment of the population that cannot be vaccinated.”

Right now kids under twelve don’t have access to an approved vaccine. And with the delta variant driving up cases in the unvaccinated, teachers are concerned schools will become COVID’s playground.

“There’s no other level of increased safety right now for elementary schools and that’s quite concerning,” said Winona Waldron, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers Association.

“If we’re talking about children’s long-term health I think it’s worth addressing those challenges.”

The union representing teachers is calling for a mask mandate, better ventilation in schools, and more emphasis on vaccinating 12 to 19-year-olds to make September, safer.

“Until vaccinations are approved for students for kindergarten to grade 12, and while we have these high case counts, we think schools need those safety measures in place,” said Teri Mooring, president of the BC Teachers Federation.

In Calgary, a mask mandate was just announced for students and staff today. Ontario as a whole has mandatory masks as part of its back-to-school plan. B.C. has yet to update its September master plan, but teachers hope it happens soon.

“We’re hopeful we’re going to see some safety measures announced in the next few days,” said Mooring.

But beyond increased COVID-19 interventions, teachers want actual recognition from our provincial health officials that COVID does spread in schools.

“Let’s acknowledge that public schools are public places, and not that they are not the controlled environment that they have been touted to be, only in B.C. though,” said Waldron.

Admitting there could be a problem is the first step, she says, in addressing what experts say could be a concerning September.

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Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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