Not enough being done to keep kids, teachers safe from COVID

At a bare minimum, mandate masks in classrooms.

letters

Not enough being done to keep kids, teachers safe from COVID

I write you today as a parent of two school-aged children and the husband of a primary school teacher. A parent who is having a hard time believing you have our children’s best interest and safety at heart.

Return to school plans were published in early September that were considered to be fluid; refinements and adjustments were to be made as situations changed, or new information learned. In the past four months I have seen no changes to this plan.

You have chosen not to require masks for classroom use, arguing that children are less likely to transmit the virus. Yet primary students are in cohorts of 60, secondary students in cohorts of 120, not including their families and all the people they interact with. And there seems to be transmissions happening in other jurisdictions. Your suggestion that it hasn’t happened yet in B.C. and so there is no need for masks is doing a disservice to families of school children. Not to mention the questionable data on the numbers of school exposures recently released by your office.

Why choose to wait to act? Why wait until the situation worsens? Given the virus’s incubation time, waiting until transmissions happen to adjust is too late.

You fail to acknowledge that children in classrooms are not physically distant, and are breathing the same air for hours each day. Both the WHO and Canada’s Public Health Agency have acknowledged that transmission of the virus is possible by aerosol. Yet no changes have been made to the school COVID plans.

You also say that schools are safe because of the “layers of protection” they enjoy. In my wife’s classroom the only “layer of protection” they have is hand washing, and leaving the windows open. No distancing is possible, and masks are worn by suggestion. Our school district didn’t reduce class sizes or do anything more than increase cleaning protocols. There are no “layers of protection”!

We have told our 12-year-old daughter that she must wear her mask in class, but she isn’t, coming home from school crying because it’s “so hard”. It’s hard because children are subjected to peer pressure. One child may be told to wear a mask while her friends aren’t subject to the same parental decree. Our daughter says she wished everyone had to wear a mask. As long as it isn’t provincially mandated, children will continue to feel this anxiety and fear.

You mandated masks for people in public places partly to take the onus off businesses. You should be doing the same thing for parents and teachers!

Children are back in school on Monday after two weeks of people getting together and flouting the rules. Instead of extending the time off to allow for the virus to slow, you have let the children return to their giant cohort bubbles. It’s time you did the right thing for our children and teachers, and, at a bare minimum, mandate masks in classrooms.

Michael Trawick

Ladysmith

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