The Saanich Teachers’ Association is calling on the local provincial election candidates from all parties to commit to making schools healthier and safer for all. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Saanich Teachers’ Association is calling on the local provincial election candidates from all parties to commit to making schools healthier and safer for all. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich teachers call on election candidates for improved health, safety in schools

Increased funding, reduced class sizes among required changes, says association president

The Saanich Teachers’ Association (STA) is calling on all candidates in local ridings to commit to providing a safer school environment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Since schools reopened in September, teachers in the Saanich School District have navigated “inadequate and confusing health and safety measures from the province,” along with a custodial shortage “in a time where cleaning measures should be a top priority,” said Don Peterson, president of the STA.

Saanich teachers ask that the candidates from all parties in the Saanich North and the Islands and Saanich South ridings commit to advocating for health and safety in schools. This, Peterson said, can be achieved by increasing education funding to the national average and providing more transparent pandemic safety protocols for school districts to implement.

He said class sizes could not be reduced without adequate funding, and custodial services will remain insufficient.

Despite the pandemic, Peterson said primary school classes are larger than in previous years. He said that while some students are learning remotely this year, it can be challenging to ensure younger students follow safety protocols in the classroom.

“Since our class size and composition language was restored in 2016, after being illegally stripped by the Liberal government in 2002, we have yet to see sufficient funding” for the school districts to reduce class sizes, Peterson said.

He added that the STA is concerned that “oversized classes” mean that students’ educational needs are not being met, and teachers are overworked.

Peterson also pointed out that schools’ pandemic safety protocols are unclear and that often, the guidelines “conflict with each other.” For example, daily student health checks are not standardized and vary from district to district. The government’s plans may have “looked good on paper,” but in practice, teachers feel the need for more clarity, he said.

According to poll results released by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation on Oct. 6, 59 per cent of teachers across the province feel health and safety measures in schools are “inadequate.”

So far, there haven’t been any COVID-19 exposures in the Saanich district, “so the risk isn’t immediate, but at the same time, we need to be prepared,” Peterson said. In terms of transmission, “it’s not if, it’s when.”

The association’s position is that an education system with adequate funding is “the basis for a healthy community” and that teachers deserve the same protection and support that B.C. workers in other fields have had during the pandemic, Peterson said.

The STA is also asking candidates to commit to doing away the Foundations Skills Assessment – a provincial standardized test which teachers feel is “unnecessary,” Peterson said.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

CoronavirusElection 2020Schools

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

Just Posted

GIF
’90s rock band resurfaces with songs never properly recorded or released

Underwater Sunshine’s online reunion involves four guys who lost contact for years

Tim Siebert, one half of the partnership behind Citrus & Cane, says opening the Douglas Street cocktail lounge during a pandemic had challenges, but the bar is ready to adapt to whatever comes next. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
New Victoria tropical cocktail lounge designed with COVID-19 safety in mind

Citrus & Cane opens in site of former Copper Owl after eight-month delay

Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist at Cascadia Seaweed, here seen in late September, shows off bull kelp (in her left hand) and rock weed. The company is spear-heading an annual seaweed festival scheduled for May 13-21, 2021, with Sidney council have signed off in principle. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

Council supports the idea in principle following a presentation by Cascadia Seaweed

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read