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

Just Posted

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

The Great Gordini puts on a magic show for an avid audience during the first Storytime in the Park in this 2019 photo. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Storytime in the Park returns this summer

Day 1 registration is on June 30

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Most Read