While British Columbia is under “circuit breaker” public health orders to reduce COVID-19 transmission, the Surrey District Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) is calling for that to be applied to schools in Surrey, a city that has been a COVID-19 hot spot for months.
Surrey DPAC director Rani Sanghera said there is talk among parents of shutting down schools once again, especially as COVID-19 cases rise and students return to school from the Easter long weekend.
“We know that schools are having variant exposures,” Sanghera said.
“Parents are very anxious. Most parents don’t want schools to close for mental health reasons and many are full-time working parents.”
Sanghera said she has been fielding emails and letters over the last couple of weeks from worried and anxious parents.
“Dr. Henry was saying we need a break, everything needs to just stop for a bit,” she said.
“This is now getting out of hand, cases have never been this high. A majority of parents are saying we need a circuit break. Most parents want their kids to be safe or that we need to move everything back online.
“It doesn’t have to be for every district. We’ve always said Surrey schools is the largest district and it’s the hot spot right now in this pandemic and it always has been. Surrey needs to have a circuit break.”
In B.C., the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., is seeing the greatest number of new cases.
“The pattern that we’ve seen up to now continues to hold. Most of the U.K. variant are in Fraser Health, and the P.1 variant, identified in Brazil, are in Vancouver Coastal Health,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.
Dix said variants could soon drive transmission but current restrictions are tough enough.
Sanghera said it’s better to act now than to have cases or exposures spiral out of control.
“Shutting down for a few weeks now is better than shutting down long-term in the future,” she said. “Instead of going through the hardship of having their kids home for a month and not getting anywhere.”
The Surrey School District has sent out more than 2,000 COVID-19 exposure letters since the start of the school year.
Global News has reached out to B.C.’s education minister for comment.