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

Dr. Henry says schools ‘perfectly safe’; BCTF urges teachers affected by smoke to take sick days

Wildfire smoke from the U.S. has led to very poor air quality for much of B.C.

The B.C Teachers’ Federation is urging its members to take sick days this week if the smoke blanketing much of the province is affecting their health.

In a tweet sent out Sunday (Sept. 13) evening, the union said anyone feeling ill on Monday should book a sick day.

“That includes symptoms brought on by the poor air quality. We need to be especially careful with respiratory symptoms because of COVID19,” the union wrote.

In a tweet earlier that day, the BCTF called the combination of COVID-19 and extremely poor air quality “deeply concerning” and called for the province to take action.

“Teachers and students should not be in crowded classes with no ventilation or fresh air.”

During an unrelated press conference, Premier John Horgan said decisions about whether or not schools should open in adverse conditions are made by individual school districts.

“I believe that just like a snow day those are local decisions,” Horgan said.

“I would leave it to those people who deliver education service, who have employees, teachers, support staff, they’ll make those decisions based on the best interests of their communities.”

Speaking on Monday afternoon, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it was “perfectly safe for people to be in school.”

Teachers and students returned to classrooms last week with physical distancing measures, learning groups and mandatory masks for older students in high traffic areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement, the education ministry said that “school districts work with their local health authorities when air quality is poor in various regions across the province and issue health advice based on local conditions.”

Black Press Media has reached out to the BCTF for further comment.

READ MORE: A day before school starts, B.C. teachers’ union still worried over lack of remote learning

READ MORE: U.S. wildfire smoke blankets B.C., wafts east to Alberta


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusEducationSchoolswildfire smoke

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

Just Posted

Who is or may be running in Stikine in the provincial election

Cullen nomination sparks controversy over NDP equity policy

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Witset releases COVID-19 strategy following three confirmed cases

Plan implements strict measures to contain spread of the virus

Meet the 10-year-old girl who grew a pineapple in northern B.C.

Emily Atkins discovers it takes a lot of patience to grow tropical fruit in a temperate climate

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read