A physical distancing sign is seen during a media tour of Hastings Elementary school in Vancouver on September 2, 2020. (Photo: 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. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

LETTER: B.C. teachers’ human rights are being violated

Reader says teachers are dealing with mental, physical harm during pandemic

Editor:

The government is violating teachers’ rights by exposing them to mental and physical harm.

B.C.’s education system is looked upon as tops. This astonishing achievement is thanks to the tireless and, for years undervalued, work of B.C. teachers. The impact of now almost 20 years of underfunding is extremely severe, due to COVID. Teachers are living in fear – especially the older and immunocompromised who were denied accommodations to work from home.

When teachers are told to self-isolate, there are no replacement teachers, so those providing learning support, library, counselling can’t do their own jobs because they have to take over a class. The special learning groups that are supposed to keep everyone safe are obviously not working, and tracing takes too long and lacks transparency.

Social distancing is impossible with large classes and small rooms, many classes lack proper ventilation and supplies, and there’s still no mask mandate. Fast saliva testing is not in place where it should be in every school.

Even though rates of COVID are five times what they were, districts are planning to bring back students after the holidays who chose online blended learning in September. This will increase class sizes and cause a huge disruptions.

Students who have formed relationships will have to be moved mid-year.

What does this do to everyone’s mental well-being in our schools? Something taught in one class may not have been taught in another as there is no linear programming in today’s curriculum.

All this is heartbreaking and disrespectful to the students, professionals and other school staff. Is anyone listening?

How long can a human being work in such an environment without breaking? Shame on this government, which failed to consult and even now ignores BCTF recommendations. It’s up to parents to speak out to ensure those that shape our children’s future are heard.

If you are a parent, speak up now in support of teachers who are not protected. Pick up the phone, visit your MLA.

Niovi Patsicakis, Surrey

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