B.C. teachers ask for class sizes to be reduced to 15 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. teachers ask for class sizes to be reduced to 15

Empty teachers desk at the front of an empty classroom at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Friday, Sept. 5, 2014.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
November 14, 2020 - 4:53 PM

B.C. teachers are urging Premier John Horgan to reduce class sizes in some areas to 15 students to address the rising tide of COVID-19 exposures in schools.

In a letter posted to Twitter Nov. 14, B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring asked Horgan to instruct the Ministry of Education to “respond swiftly to the dramatic rise in cases of COVID-19 in the Fraser Health region by reducing class sizes to no more than 15 students.”

Cases of COVID-19 have risen sharply in recent weeks and totals since the start of the pandemic show where concentrations are.   Surrey, on its own, had 3,993 people test positive for COVID-19 since January. The City of Vancouver was not far behind with 3,444 cases.

The two cities combined for about half the cases in B.C.

The Central Okanagan is showing some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region. It has recorded 409 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in January. That's 53 per cent of the 768 cases recorded in the entire Interior Health region so far this year.

In turn, these areas have the most school exposures and teachers want that addressed.

“Over the past weekend, almost 1,000 more British Columbians have been diagnosed with COVID-19 with the vast majority in the Fraser Health region. This alarming surge in cases is of deep concern to all British Columbians but especially so to the teachers, staff and parents of students attending the hundreds of schools that have seen exposures to the coronavirus,” Mooring wrote.

“With class sizes as they are now,  teachers find it virtually impossible to maintain physical distancing in classrooms. Some school districts, such as Vancouver have already reduce their class sizes to 15 students to enforce safe spaces, a limit that ought to be immediately implemented in all school districts in the Fraser Health region.”

Mooring said it’s a  position “strongly held by all B.C. teachers.”

A motion to this effect was passed at the weekend BCTF’s Representative Assembly, a body comprised of 300 teachers elected from across the province.

“Mr. Premier, for the safety of everyone in our school system, we implore you to order Ministry of Education officials to work with school districts in Fraser Health to reduce class sizes and allow for proper physical distancing,” she said.

“Now is the time to invest in the small classes that will help keep our students safe.”

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