The head of the BC Teachers’ Federation is calling on the province to address the “inconsistent” ways in which school districts are dealing with COVID-19 health concerns.
President Teri Mooring released a letter on Tuesday that she wrote to Education Minister Rob Fleming, accusing his ministry of failing to “issue clear directives” and leaving crucial decisions to the various school districts.
The union wants school districts to provide all of its member with a face shield, to offer a remote learning option, and to provide dedicated staffing for remote learning, rather than adding to the existing workload.
“Anxiety, fear, and stress now significantly outweigh the excitement because of needless uncertainties and inconsistencies created by your ministry’s lack of clear direction,” Mooring wrote.
“As a result, we see vastly different policies and practices across the province, resulting in significant inequities for students and staff. This is causing confusion, stress, and a downward slide in working and learning conditions.”
The B.C. government has promised to provide reusable masks to all students and staff.
The province has more than $100 million from the federal government that can be spent this month to improve remote options or be used in other ways the school districts deem necessary.
The federal government is providing $242.4 million in one-time funding for the 2020-21 school year. More than $100 million is available this month with the rest coming in January.
Fleming did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
“We have thousands of teachers in crowded classrooms with up to 30 students or more,” Mooring added. “You need to take more decisive action to ensure school districts spend the $242 million in federal money to enhance student and teacher safety by providing equitable remote options and reducing school and class density.”