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Teachers' union calls for mask wearing in B.C. elementary schools

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March 16, 2021 - 1:00 PM

Elementary school teachers in B.C. are three times more likely to get COVID-19 as high school teachers, according the B.C. School Teachers’ Federation.

Based on WorkSafeBC data as of March 11, 80 claims had been approved for Kindergarten to Grade 7 teachers versus 25 for those teaching Grades 8 to 12, a B.C. Teachers’ Federation news release states. Since then, 31 more claims have been filed.

“The discrepancy in infection rates truly underscores the importance of mask wearing in classrooms,” federation president Teri Mooring said in the release. “Elementary schools aren’t subject to any mask mandates for students, unlike our secondary schools. The lack of transparent data about transmission in schools means we can only guess that the lack of masks is leading to more infections among elementary teachers.”

The BCTF says that 89% of elementary school teachers’ COVID-19 claims have been allowed, compared to 71% of the total number of claims for all occupations. It also says teachers have the third highest number of claims of any occupation, behind workers in long-term care and acute care settings.

“The Public Health Officer and government seem to be holding firm with their current mask mandates, so while we continue to advocate for stronger measures, we also need to rely on parents to talk to their children about the importance of wearing a mask for everybody’s safety,” Mooring said.

According to WorksafeBC data posted to this web page, the total number of claims filed by teachers lags far behind health care workers. It shows that, out of occupations where five or more claims have been filed, 983 came from acute care settings. Another 971 came from long-term care while 251 came from public school districts.

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