Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students to return to the classroom in September. (Contributed photo)

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students to return to the classroom in September. (Contributed photo)

Not enough science to back return-to-school plan, says White Rock dad

Bernard Trest and his son have launched a Facebook page to rally parents with similar concerns

B.C.’s plan to return students to class in September has a White Rock father and son considering protests and a class-action lawsuit.

Friday (July 31), Bernard and Max Trest launched a Facebook page dedicated to rallying others who share their concerns around the size of cohorts planned, the lack of a mandatory mask requirement and no option for hybrid/virtual learning.

“Help stop the insanity in BC before our kids become infected and possibly die,” an introduction on the page states.

“Our voices here in BC, which are the majority of the voices, need to be heard as the government is not properly protecting our children.”

Ministry of Education officials on July 29 announced B.C.’s plan for a return to school in September, noting much of the plan will be up to individual school districts.

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

Minister of Education Rob Fleming said 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” – up to 60 for elementary school and 120 for high school –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.

Surrey Schools superintendent Jordan Tinney said in a July 30 message that the cohorts will stay together for learning and other activities. Students will still be in classes, “but these classes can learn and interact together,” he said.

“It’s very similar to expanding your contacts in the community, but it limits the close contacts to 60 or 120 in our schools.”

Bernard Trest said it makes no sense that B.C’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has capped limits for social gatherings at 50, but is allowing student cohorts of 120.

“She’s sending very mixed feelings to the public,” Trest said.

Trest said B.C. should be following Ontario’s lead, citing a plan that includes mandatory masks, smaller cohorts and an option to continue learning at home in a virtual environment.

With all that is still unknown about COVID-19, he added – as well as a “great deal” of data showing it may cause lifelong health complications – the risk to students is too great to proceed as currently planned.

“You’re dealing with possibly killing children,” he said, describing the message that things are OK as a “Chernobyl moment” – a reference to word he said officials gave following the 1986 disaster, that “there’s nothing wrong, everything’s going to be OK.”

“There’s not enough data, there’s not enough science to let us know that,” Trest said.

“Saying it’s OK does not make it OK.”

Max, who is 10 years old, has asthma and “understands the science” – he was described as a “child prodigy” in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics July 2020 newsletter – was blunt when asked to share his opinion of the current plan for school.

“It sounds like something that’s really stupid,” he said. “I feel that the cohorts need to be really limited.”

Surrey teacher Lizanne Foster shared similar concerns this week on social media. She said a return to school immediately after the Labour Day weekend – a time when there is potentially a “massive mixing of people” – is a bad idea. It doesn’t mesh with health officials’ previous pre-long-weekend messages around waiting two weeks to see how many fell ill, she said.

“We are in school during that incubation period… That’s a problem,” she said.

School infrastructure, she added, is a bigger problem.

READ MORE: Surrey teacher hopes Ministry of Education will change return-to-school plan

Trest – noting he’s seen “thousands” of comments online from parents who share similar concerns – said protest ideas he has in mind include a “mass walkout” in which parents who don’t feel it is safe yet for their kids to go back to class would simply not show up in September.

He encouraged anyone interested to visit the Facebook page for more information.

– with files from Lauren Collins & Ashley Wadhwani



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusstudentsSurrey

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

Just Posted

Tanvi Pandhi, a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary, took part in the Surrey school district’s survey of students in grades 10 to 12, with a focus on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey students voice concerns about mask wearing, distancing in schools

Surrey school district has been surveying students in grades 10 to 12

Cambridge Elementary School music teacher Darlene Lourenco is “on the mend” after contracting COVID-19. She had a two-week stay at Surrey Memorial Hospital, including in the ICU. (Photo: submitted)
Surrey music teacher at home after two-week hospital stay battling COVID-19

Meantime, Surrey Teachers’ Association sends letter with safety demands to board of education

Keir Macdonald, CEO of Phoenix Drug and Alcohol Recovery Education Society, with the “first of its kind” Adult Residential Substance Use and Supportive Recovery Facility Homelessness Count. It was done around the time of the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count (March 3 to 4, 2020) to complement the count. (Photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey homeless, recovery counts show need for long-term solutions

This was the first time recovery, substance use facilities were included in the count

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Hail to the chief – an in-depth interview with Surrey Police Service’s first boss

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski will assume his historic new role on Dec. 14

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Newton Elementary School in Surrey, according to an information bulletin Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Image: Google Street View)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at second Surrey elementary school

Newton Elementary closed for two weeks, set to reopen Dec. 14

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read