The B.C. teachers’ union is calling on the province to limit class sizes in Fraser Health to 15 students as cases in the region continue to surge.
In an open letter posted online on Saturday (Nov. 14), B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said that the “alarming surge in cases is of deep concern” to teachers, staff and parents.
Fraser Health, which spans from Delta to Hope, has had the highest rates and case counts of COVID-19. Out of the record-breaking 617 new cases in B.C. Friday, 424 were in Fraser Health. Overall, the health authority has had 12,814 cases reported to date, more than double that of Vancouver Coastal Health with 6,237 cases. Currently, the Fraser Health region has more than 4,073 active cases, more than double the rest of the health authorities in B.C. combined. The region has also seen 45 per cent of B.C. 290 COVID-19 deaths.
In her letter, Mooring noted that some school districts, like Vancouver, have already reduced class sizes to 15 students to allow for physical distancing.
“With class sizes as they are now, teachers find it is virtually impossible to maintain physical distancing in classrooms,” Mooring said.
Her letter comes as three schools shut down for two-week closures following COVID-19 outbreaks and clusters. All the schools are located in Fraser Health: Cambridge Elementary in Surrey with seven cases, Jarvis Traditional Elementary School in North Delta with six cases and Al-Hidayah School in New Westminster with eight cases. Aside from the temporarily closed schools, there are more than 70 other exposure events currently listed for Fraser Health schools. Neighbouring Vancouver Coastal Health has 29 total school exposures listed.
The BCTF also shared a photo of Surrey teachers demonstrating what a classrooms look like in their schools currently.
Physical distancing is not possible, poor ventilation. COVID19 will only spread further in environments like this. Reduce class sizes now,” the union stated.
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