Students at one of the four district sites being used for childcare for essential service workers, during the suspension of in-class learning, had special protocols throughout the day for washing hands and keeping the classrooms clean. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

B.C. teacher hopes province will change back-to-school plan in fear of COVID transmission

‘My ideal would be that I go back to a classroom where everybody’s wearing masks,’ says Lizanne Foster

Lizanne Foster says her “most immediate” concern about going back to school on Sept. 8 is the Labour Day long weekend.

Foster, a career life connections teacher at Queen Elizabeth Secondary in Surrey, has been voicing her concerns on social media about the B.C. government’s plan for a return for the 2020-21 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: B.C. to roll out ‘learning groups’ as part of COVID-19 back-to-school plan

“Everybody’s going to be out. There’s been increased contact all through this pandemic whenever there was a (long weekend) … Then Dr. Henry was out there telling us we need to wait for the two-week incubation period to see how many people got sick, and urging people that if they suspect they’re sick to isolate,” explained Foster.

“But suddenly, there can be this massive mixing of people on Labour Day weekend and then, boom, we’re in school the next day. We are in school during that incubation period … That’s a problem.”

Education Minister Rob Fleming and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’ announced earlier this week that the province is moving to Stage 2 of the B.C. Education Restart Plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year on Sept. 8.

Students will be organized into “learning groups” or “cohorts” made up of a “consistent group of staff and students.” Students will be assigned to groups of up to 60 for elementary school and 120 for high school.

This is to reduce the number of people each student or staff member will come into contact with, reduce the risk of transmission and help with contact tracing for health authorities.

Foster said it’s “terrifying to have to think about choosing your life or your livelihood.”

“That’s why I’m pushing on social media, everywhere, all these questions right now, because I’m hoping in the next five weeks, we can turn something around and get something more palatable that can actually be safe,” she said.

“My ideal (situation) would be that I go back to a classroom where everybody’s wearing masks and the class size is small, like 10 to 12 students. I can spread our 10 to 12 students in my classroom.”

Foster pointed to the public Facebook group, BC voters supporting BC teachers and public education, which has more than 12,000 members, to get a gauge of what teachers and parents are thinking about the plan.

But the bigger problem, she said, is school infrastructure as a whole.

“Every time the provincial health officer talks about schools, I don’t think she knows what actually is in schools… When she says schools can do this and schools can do that, you cannot do it,” said Foster, adding that officials have pointed to essential service workers being able to return to their jobs.

“But essential workers and all those other workers, they do not work in buildings where windows don’t open, where the ventilation system does not work, where taps have to be held down in order to work, they’re not working in portables.”

She said it’s like teachers are in “one reality” and the ministry and health officials are in another.

“They’re telling us the reality we know we live in is not possible.

“Just in the same way restaurants and bars and all these places are getting regular inspections. Hospitals, of course, have to be held to a really high standard, so they get checked all the time,” said Foster.

“Schools need to be checked. They should come in and base the plan for schools on what schools are actually like. This is the most frustrating thing about this plan.”

– With files from Ashley Wadhwani



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

CoronavirusEducationSurrey

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

Just Posted

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Jennifer Rice BC NDP North Coast Incumbent was re-elected for a third according to the preliminary results on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Subsea fibre optics running from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal Communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13.
Subsea fibre optics running from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13. (Black Press Media)
CityWest to refresh subsea fibre optics project

Fibre optics project to run cable from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii then south to Vancouver

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read