A movement started by a group of Langley parents for a “sick out” was gained steam and publicity this week as some parents kept their kids home in protest of COVID-19 rules in schools.
Miranda Tracy, Tara Kurtz, and a small group of other parents came up with the idea and started a Facebook group to promote Tuesday, Dec. 1 for a BC Student Sick Out.
By keeping kids home for a day and calling them in sick, they aimed to pressure the education system and provincial government to put in more stringent mask rules, smaller class sizes, and more hybrid or at-home learning options.
Between the last week of November and the sick out event on Tuesday, the membership of the Sick Out Facebook group more than doubled, from about 1,400 people to 2,900 people.
As parents chimed in online to say they had pulled their kids from school, organizer Kurtz was urging parents to join an emailing campaign to their local MLAs to keep up the pressure.
“The government has not been listening to those who work in schools, but today they are going to hear from us that what they are doing is not acceptable,” Kurtz wrote.
The group has received media attention from radio, TV, and newspapers including coverage online at the Langley Advance Times.
Politicians have also weighed in.
“We are now at the point where parents are feeling compelled to pull their children from the classroom to try to get the government’s attention,” BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau said Tuesday. “The BCTF has repeatedly called for changes to classrooms and schools to address concerns raised by teachers, staff, students, and parents.”
Furstenau called for more operating funding grants to give school districts more flexibility to provide online and hybrid programs and more mental health supports.
A major labour organization wrote an open letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix and public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry supporting the sick out movement.
“While we understand the critical need for children to be in school in spite of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, it needs to be done safely and with the same strict standards that are in place for all other workplaces,” said the letter, signed by BC Building Trades president Al Phillips.