Aug 24, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Response to BC Government’s Back to School Plan for 2021/22
The group, Safe Schools Coalition BC, is very disappointed in the BC Back to School plan for the upcoming school year. BC continues to fail children in preschool and grades K to 3.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reported a nearly 7 fold increase in new child COVID infections in one month (July 2021). Over the past weekend, 364 BC children tested positive, which is 22% of cases reported. This is before our schools have opened with no physical distancing and minimal precautions against infection of an airborne virus.
Today, Minister Whiteside stated multiple times, "we are not in the same place as last September”. We agree; we now have scientific data that confirms that COVID-19 is an airborne virus and that present infections are due to the much more virulent Delta variant. To not recognize these facts and put in place ALL possible protections for our children is atrocious. Our children need:
1) Well-fitted, appropriate masks for *all* students and staff in school buildings, regardless of vaccination status, to keep Delta transmission low;
2) Ventilation improvements, including ensuring a minimum of six air-changes-per-hour (6ACH) with fresh air intake, CO2 monitors for real time feedback to trigger manual response (opening doors or windows);
3) Filtration improvements including, MERV 13 in HVAC units where ventilation is low/none and HEPA filters;
4) Quality remote options (more than Distributed Learning programs provide) for families with vulnerable children or family members.
These children are too young to be vaccinated at this time, and with none of the necessary improvements above, they have no protections against contracting COVID. As we know, those who are vaccinated can still transmit the virus, so even if children are surrounded by vaccinated people, they are still at risk. We understand that only 80% of teachers have been vaccinated. This does not take into account other school staff, and leaves K-3 children completely vulnerable if in contact with unvaccinated adult.
We have grave concerns regarding the notification process of COVID cases in schools.
* Will the BC CDC take into account the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant?
* Will they be transparent in their data and information regarding exposure risks?
* Will schools be informed in a timely manner?
We expected better from our Ministry of Education and we hope our School Districts will recognize the flaws in the current plan and work to protect the children in their care.
Safe Schools Coalition BC is a group of citizens in British Columbia who are advocating for COVID-19 safety measures in K-12 schools. It is comprised of BC parents, teachers, former school administrators, and grandparents. It was formed in July 2021 in response to the rising Delta variant and lack of response from BC governments and school districts regarding ventilation and student health.