Teacher Elisa Infusini and her grade one students wear masks as they attend class at Honore Mercier elementary school, Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Teacher Elisa Infusini and her grade one students wear masks as they attend class at Honore Mercier elementary school, Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Teachers’ union calls for Fraser Health K-3 mask mandate, more vaccines as cases rise in youths

Teachers also want a move to allow hybrid learning

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is calling on B.C. to expand the mask mandate down to kindergarten students in Fraser Health as COVID cases continue to surge in B.C.

Daily cases in the province have sat near or even above 1,000 in recent weeks, and variants of concern have been on the rise. While B.C. does not release numbers for how much COVID is spread at schools, cases among children under the age of 15 have reached their highest rate since the pandemic began. Cases among teens aged 15 to 19 are also on the rise, with cases the week of March 21-27 rising from 86 to 138 per 100,000.

The presidents of local teachers’ unions in Fraser Health are calling for the mask mandate to be extended all the way down to kindergarten students. Currently, the school mask mandate only targets students in Grade 4 and up, while face coverings remain “encouraged” for the bottom four grades.

“Primary teachers’ school days include close contact with their young students who may not understand the reasons behind why they should limit physical contact,” the request reads. “In other community interactions, children as young as two must wear a mask, so this should not be a problem for five-to eight-year-olds to do the same while attending school.”

Some provinces have already made masks mandatory for even the youngest students; in Quebec, all students must wear masks in the province’s hardest hit “red zones.”

While teachers in Surrey, the province’s highest-risk community, have been vaccinated, the overall frontline workers vaccination program remains on pause following the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 55. While B.C. officials have said the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine could fill that gap when shipments arrive at the end of the month.

“We hope the rest of our Fraser Health region teachers will be on track to receive full vaccination as soon as possible,” the presidents said.

Another request echoed the words of BCTF president Teri Mooring earlier this week when she called for more clarity on the K-12 pandemic framework. The framework has five stages and all of B.C. has been in stage 2, which involves in-class schooling with learning groups, since the start of the school year. Stage 1 would be a full return to normal while Stage 5 is full scale remote learning.

Fraser Health area presidents asked for a return to Stage 3, which would involve a blend of online and in-person classes.

“Timing is of the essence for this action, as secondary schools will change learning groups in a few weeks and hundreds of thousands of kids will be switching cohorts,” the presidents said. :This poses a substantial increased risk for transmission in schools. The quarter turn around is an opportune moment to implement a phase change to keep our students, their families and staff safe.”

READ MORE: B.C. teachers’ union asks officials for COVID data to prove schools are still safe


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

CoronavirusEducationSchools

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

Just Posted

Allen, Mel, and Trevor Leung pose on the Whitecaps field in Vancouver. (Special to The News)
Community rallies to support Maple Ridge man suffering from paralysis, kidney issues

GoFundMe set up to help Allen Leung and his family during difficult times

Tori Peterson was named Pitcher of the Week in the NCAA Ohio Valley Conference. (Facebook/Eastern Kentucky University)
Pitt Meadows pitcher shining in the NCAA

Tori Peterson wins accolades during a great season

Maple Ridge artist Renato Muccillo works on a piece called Flotilla that will be on display at his solo exhibition Scene/Unseen. (Special to The News)
Solo show at New York Gallery for Maple Ridge artist

Renato Muccillo’s paintings highlight Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows landscapes

The Greater Vancouver geographic distribution of COVID-19 cases for the week of April 4-10, from the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Week sees 217 cases of COVID-19 in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows

Fraser Health emphasizes the importance of testing, following health orders

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds, amenities coming to B.C. parks as part of $82M provincial boost

This camping season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

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

B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
‘Stereotypes’ not an issue in Langley sex assault ruling, Court of Appeal says

The Court of Appeal upheld a conviction in two attacks on a 17-year-old

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
Archibald bowl near Chilliwack. (Submitted)
Cheam First Nation ‘shocked’ over all-season mountain resort proposal near Chilliwack

For five years the band has been working on a gondola project of their own

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A almost hitting school bus

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

Most Read