In the media: back-to-school COVID-19 safety concerns

Students and educators in BC are preparing to go back to school in mere weeks for the third autumn since the dawn of the COVID-19 era.

Jennifer Heighton, co-founder of Safe Schools Coalition BC, and public elementary school teacher, was recently interviewed by various media outlets, where she raised calls for increased safety measures to protect school communities.

Heighton was quoted in an article written by Global News, in which BC health minister Adrian Dix—amid planning for the 2022-2023 school year—said school protocols this year will likely mirror plans in place at the end of last year. Heighton called upon the NDP-led BC government to address the shortfall in safety measures in schools.

Heighton likened the lack of COVID-19 regulations in schools to other areas of society.

"We don’t just suggest that people put car seats in their cars for children under a certain age or weight, they have to,

“We have rules for drinking and driving laws ... because recommendations don’t work.” she said.

Heighton also called upon the government to address indoor air quality, and in lieu of that, to reinstitute masking guidelines: “Unfortunately with the situation with a lot of COVID spread happening, it doesn’t look like it would be a good idea for schools to open without universal mask protection.”

Late last week, Heighton was also asked for comment by the Vancouver Sun in an article focused upon the same topic. Here, she spoke about the crowded nature of the classroom, and the need to make schools accessible for children with immunodeficiency.

“All kids should have access to public education, including those that are at high risk,” she said.