Canada

COVID-19: Teachers in Fraser Health region call for aggressive measures to deal with ‘third wave’

Presidents of the 12 local unions representing Kindergarten to Grade 12 public school teachers signed a letter to government saying they are very concerned that B.C. is a hotspot for the P.1 variant.

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Teachers in the Fraser Health region are calling on the B.C. government to implement more aggressive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

They made the plea on the same day as the BC Green Party demanded a three-week lockdown to deal with the province’s spike in the more contagious variants of the virus.

Presidents of the 12 local unions representing Kindergarten to Grade 12 public school teachers signed a letter to government saying they are very concerned that B.C. is now identified by epidemiologists around the world as a hotspot for the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil.

They are asking that at this time a region-specific phase change to at least Stage 3 to allow for blended in-person and online learning.

“It is critical that we support our students and their family with health and safety measures that keep them safe at this time,” the presidents said Thursday.

They also want mandated masks in Kindergarten to Grade 3 and an update on the teacher vaccination progress.

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“With the spreading of much more contagious variants, it is time to adapt and take more aggressive measures to fight COVID-19 in our school communities,” they said.

Meantime, the BC Green Party is calling for a three-week lockdown that includes enforcing non-essential travel, moving school online for most students, and providing support to temporarily close non-essential businesses.

“Earlier this spring, I said it felt like government was not rising to the fight in light of rising case numbers. Now it is feeling like they are forfeiting the fight altogether,” said Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Cowichan Valley.

“We were not dealt a bad hand – we loosened restrictions despite rising variant cases, allowed out-of-province travel, stalled in-school mask mandates, and did not enforce orders or tailor messaging to hit those who have not been following orders. This third wave is the outcome of that inaction.”

The party also wants the government to resume daily COVID briefings, publish numbers on the weekend, and expand asymptomatic testing and rapid testing in workplaces, schools, businesses, and neighbourhoods.

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