The Surrey school district classrooms using physical distancing in September 2020. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Parent group plans school walkout over B.C.’s handling of COVID-19 in classrooms

Right to Fight COVID-19 group calling on parents to keep kids home on Oct. 20

Despite continued reassurance by B.C.’s top doctor that parents shouldn’t be too concerned over COVID-19 exposures in classrooms, at least one group of parents has had enough – and is asking fellow parents to join an upcoming walkout.

Organized by the Right to Fight COVID-19 group, parents are being asked to keep their children out of school on Oct. 20.

“This will be the first of hopefully many collaborative efforts by not just our group, but many groups, province wide, to stage a protest by exercising our right to decide when and IF our children attend school,” a post by the organization on a Facebook event reads.

The growing chorus of concerned parents comes as B.C. enters into its second month of return-to-school. Since September, there have been roughly 100 exposures connected to schools in all corners of the province.

Some of the concerns that have been raised by parents include the way information is shared when a confirmed case is linked to a school.

When an exposure is identified, the school district works with the regional health authority and contact tracers to share specifics on a need-to-know basis, while the exposure is also then posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

But many parents want more details, claiming the lack of transparency only causes more worry.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has couched those concerns in the past several weeks, even as B.C. recorded its first case of MIS-C, which was first identified in April as being linked to COVID-19, and similar to Kawasaki disease can cause inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body.

During a news conference Thursday, Henry said the syndrome can be serious but is rare and noted that COVID-19 cases in children remains relatively low.

Right to Fight COVID-19 is also calling for mandated mask-wearing in schools, better ventilation in classrooms and smaller class sizes than the current cohort system.

“We want transparency. We want uniform and sustainable remote learning options. We want the right to make sure our children have access to safe and uniform public education. Including children with diverse needs,” the group said on Facebook. “Our children and teachers aren’t expendable, or a science experiment.”

The union representing teachers in B.C. has also been vocal with its concerns for staff on the front lines of exposures.

READ MORE: School teacher tests positive for COVID-19 as B.C. sees two new deaths, 20 cases

“Empty seats will tell our teachers we are with them,” Right to Fight COVID-19 said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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