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

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

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Nechako Figure Skating Club Canskate members Aubrie Sholer (from left), Renee Janzen, Alina Borno, Presley Stuckless, Sophia Reid and Layla Whittaker skate during a recent practice at the Vanderhoof Arena. (Photo submitted)
Nechako Figure Skating Club awarded local sport relief funds

“It will definitely help us recover from this and help us go on for another year.”

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

New three-storey seniors housing complex being builton the corner of Church Avenue and Victoria Street in Vanderhoof. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Housing availability a top priority for district: mayor

In Vanderhoof, 146 properties sold in 2020 worth $42.7 million

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

Most Read