Back to School Update for BC- Some Students Allowed, Teachers Worried About Their Safety

On Wednesday, BC announced that the return to school date for students from Kindergarten through Grade 12 would be pushed by one week. It is now on Jan 10, 2022.

The education minister for BC, Jennifer Whiteside, stated: "This delayed start will allow public health and education time to assess the impact of the Omicron variant on our communities and on our education system."

As the advocates for children with special needs were concerned about school closures amid the rising COVID-19 cases, the province announced they would be following a phased approach to returning from winter break. The schools will open for children of essential workers and kids with special needs on Jan 3 or 4.

Teachers Worry

Many teachers believe that combating the fast-spreading Omicron variant will not be easy. They are also concerned about the fact that many of them haven't received their booster shots yet, and they might not get them before the schools open again.

One of the Secondary School Teachers stated, "My concern for teachers is that a lot of us are at you know, six-and-a-half, seven months (since getting a second COVID-19 shot), and there isn't going to be a ton of availability based on what I saw when I looked in the (vaccine) portal."

The province is working hard to ensure teacher safety. It started sending invitations to 800,000 people who were six months past the second dose. Most teachers and school staff meet that criterion as they got priority access to the first shot last spring. However, only some of them were invited to book, and the majority are still waiting.

One of the teachers who haven't been invited stated, "People who haven't been invited, including myself, you know, are continually checking because people that are younger than us, people that you know are shorter time periods are getting their invites."

Many vaccine appointments are available in Metro Vancouver, but most are in mid or late January. Teachers are requesting pop-up clinics inside schools this week to ensure they and other staff get vaccinated before students start coming to school.

The president of the BC. Teachers' Federation, Teri Mooring, said, "We do think this would be a perfect time to make sure all teachers got their booster shots in this week while the planning is happening."

Actions Needed

The safety of students is also a concern because about 60% of the kids aged 5-11 are not immunized, and only 48% are registered to take a shot. Until publishing this article, just over one-third of children in that age group have had their first dose.

When students come to class, BC will need to ensure that public and independent schools use enhanced protocols like virtual assemblies, limiting visitors on school premises, and staggered break times, among others.

Read about all updates regarding the new restrictions here.

Here are some safety tips for returning to school during COVID-19 that you might need in the future when your kid goes to school 

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