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Teachers in Fraser Valley call for stricter COVID-19 measures as variant cases rise

The presidents of 12 teachers' unions in the Fraser Valley issued a joint statement Thursday saying aggressive measures are needed to curb COVID-19 transmission. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Teachers unions in the Fraser Health region are demanding the province invoke tougher measures to curb COVID-19 transmission in schools.

The presidents of 12 teachers’ unions in the Fraser Valley issued a joint statement Thursday, saying aggressive measures are needed to curb transmission, particularly with the increasing prevalence of the variants of concern.

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They are asking for a blended learning model that includes in-person and online learning, and are calling for mandatory masks for all students from kindergarten to Grade 3 when inside their classrooms. Current guidelines require students in Grade 4 and above to wear masks.

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They are also calling for an update on vaccination plans, now that most teachers and school staff in Surrey have received their first dose of vaccine while colleagues elsewhere in the region are still waiting.

Earlier this week, the Surrey District Parents Advisory Council urged provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to implement “circuit break” measures at schools in the city, which has been a COVID-19 hotspot, in the same vein as the stricter measures she announced on March 29 to fight record spikes in cases.

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Read more: Mandatory masks for Grades 4-12 coming to B.C. schools starting Wednesday

Council president Rani Sanghera said she has been fielding emails and letters over the last couple of weeks from worried and anxious parents.

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“Dr. Henry was saying we need a break. Everything needs to just stop for a bit,” she said.

Education and health officials have repeatedly defended the safety plans in place in schools, and said that data shows school transmission is low.

— With files from Emily Lazatin and Richard Zussman 

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