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

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

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Most Read