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B.C. Teachers Federation wants delay of school restart as COVID-19 cases surge

Union wants N95 masks, rapid testing among other safety measures
An empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The British Columbia Teachers Federation wants the province to delay the start of the winter term in public schools across B.C. as cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 mount.

Several social media messages posted by the BCTF and retweeted by union president Teri Mooring say provincial and district officials “need to do much more” if they intend to keep schools open in January.

The messages list eight expectations to safely reopen schools.

Recommendations include: free N-95 masks and rapid tests in all schools; staggered class, recess and lunch times; and, ramped up testing and vaccinations during the winter break.

The teachers federation says the highly transmissible Omicron variant has “changed the pandemic” and it says school safety measures must change, too.

The union says thousands of students are still unvaccinated and many teachers and support staff haven’t received vaccine booster shots, so school districts and the B.C. government must “step up” to protect everyone in the public school system.

The Canadian Press