A physical distancing sign is seen during a media tour of Hastings Elementary school in Vancouver on September 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A physical distancing sign is seen during a media tour of Hastings Elementary school in Vancouver on September 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. teachers had no say in decision to rule out winter break extension: BCTF

Other provinces have moved to virtual learning for the tail end of semester

The head of the B.C. teachers’ union said they were not consulted about the decision to keep students in school until the traditional winter break, instead of extending it like some other provinces.

At a press conference Monday (Dec. 7), provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that officials had consulted with stakeholders about the decision, and had come to the conclusion that it was best to keep kids in school. The winter holiday break is scheduled to start on Dec. 21.

“We are not having large numbers of transmission events in schools,” she said. “Schools really are a safe place, and an important place for educators and for our students.”

However, in a tweet later that day, B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said that the union was not on the list of stakeholders.

“It’s unclear to me why this issue didn’t go to the Ministry steering committee where all the stakeholders are represented. Obviously communication continues to be very problematic,” she noted.

Speaking on Wednesday (Dec. 9) afternoon, newly-minted Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said that there was overall agreement over the decision to continue with a standard winter break.

“The public health officer made the determination that no adjustment was necessary to the school break schedule,” Whiteside said. “That is a decision that I understand our education partners largely agreed with.”

Despite Mooring’s Twitter post, Whiteside said it is her “understanding that the BCTF have said don’t really take issue with the [provincial health officer’s] decision about the school break.”

B.C. has had hundreds of exposures in its schools since students returned in September, but only a few outbreaks. The province has not released detailed information about the rate of COVID-19 spread in schools. As of Wednesday, there have been 1,544 children under the age of 10 and 3,403 between the ages of 10 and 19 who have tested positive for the virus.

With low rates of transmission in schools touted by health officials Whiteside said “there is no evidence that it would safer for kids to be out of the structured and safe environment we built for them in schools.”

Other provinces in Canada have gone the route of an extended winter break. In Alberta, students in Grade 7 to 12 were sent home on Nov. 30 and will continue through virtual learning until their semesters end on Dec. 20. Younger students will continue in-class until Dec. 18.

In Quebec, all public schools will close for in-class learning on Dec. 17, with students studying virtually till the end of the semester.

READ MORE: BCTF asks parents to ‘create a culture of mask wearing’ as schools excluded from new rules


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The BCJALL draft was held on Thursday evening.
Maple Ridge’s Malawsky picked first overall in BCJALL draft

Burrards midgets again dominate the Junior A midget draft

About 150 guests attended the 16th annual Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. (The News files)
Parker Kaumi, 6, and his mother, Lauren, baked cookies to raise money for the Canucks Autism Network. (Chris Kaumi/Special to The News)
Maple Ridge mother and son bake cookies for Canucks Autism Network

Raise $1,200 for the organization that offers activities and programs to children and youth with autism

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href="mailto:editor@mapleridgenews.com"><strong>editor@mapleridgenews.com</strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: ‘Maybe it’s time for a long second look’

Good news and more bad news on the Site C project and billions being spent to make it happen

Food For The Soul is offering support for the homeless population from its store on the Lougheed Highway in downtown Maple Ridge. (The News files)
LETTER: Maple Ridge’s Food For The Soul Project doing great work

Society working with homeless population in the community

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read