I grew up in a small rural town in BC. When walking at night, I was taught to walk on the left side of the road facing traffic, wear reflective or light-coloured clothing, walk in single file, and do not wear headphones (the earbuds of the day). In this pandemic, Dr. Henry taught me to social distance by two meters, to wear a mask, to keep my bubble small. and wash my hands frequently, all of which I have done religiously!
Now the school opening plan is saying ignore social distancing, only wear a mask if you feel like it, your bubble can be 120+, and forget hand washing because the facilities cannot handle it. And it is Dr. Henry telling me this!
That is like saying when walking at night, walk on the right side of the road, wear dark clothing, walk in a large group, and turn your earbud music up. This kind of advice is dangerous just like the school plan is dangerous to the community.
Premier Horgan and Minister Fleming need to put a stop to this madness. Students, teachers, school staff and everyone they have contact with are being put at far greater risk than need be.
Since June, we have learned a great deal about the virus. We know that children do not seem to suffer as much as adults, but we now know the children are very efficient spreaders of the virus. We do know that the virus has killed some children. We have seen other countries open schools with much more restrictive provisions than BC only to have to shut down again. We also know that at least thirty percent of a typical school staff have underlying conditions that would make the virus much more dangerous to them. The knowledge as to the effects of this virus is also growing. We now know that people of all ages can suffer long term debilitating effects including to the brain, lungs and other organs.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
Having this knowledge and knowing how effective this province has been to date with the current protocols, how can we possibly believe abandoning our present protocols overnight is anything but madness? It is clearly politics taking precedence over safety. Getting kids back in school enables the economy to expand. Introducing large cohort groups (the night before the announcement) appears to be for the purpose of contact tracing. This makes no sense when there is a better way.
The links below provide a plan that does the following:
All students in K-7 attend full time allowing parents to go to work
Class sizes are 15 allowing social distancing
Primary students are separated from intermediate students
Teacher contact is limited to 15 students
For Grade 8-10
All grade 8-10 students attend two days per week
Class sizes are 15 or less and students remain in one classroom
Teachers (not students) move from class to class
In-school time with teachers focuses on core subjects
Other subjects are taught online
For Senior Students (gr.11 &12)
Students learn remotely as is occurring at most post-secondary institutions
We must remember that as Dr. Henry says: “this is not forever but just for now”. This plan also meets her criteria of “fewer faces in larger spaces”. I would suggest every student should wear a mask and teachers and staff should be provided with the required PPE. This plan requires few if any additional teachers but, as with any plan, should employ whatever cleaning staff is required to maintain safety. When and if we have a vaccine, we can take what we learn from this experience and perhaps create a system that serves students even better than in the past.
The current rush to have all students in school on September 8th is a fool’s game. In the Ministry plan the suggested cohort does not work for senior scheduling. It is impossible to social distance. It is simply a rush to normalcy that will never again exist. We can do better! Our Superintendents and Board Chairs need to speak out! Our children and our entire community need us to do better!
Copyright: Doug Player August 3, 2020.