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Letter: Are Burnaby schools safe? Not in my books

Parents set to protest on Saturday
Schools COVID-19 Classroom


Are schools safe?

With the impending school year, the topic of a mask mandate and safe schools has been hitting social media like a hailstorm.

For the unvaccinated children 12 years old and under, Canadian medical officials report, safety is surrounding them with as many vaccinated people as possible. However, we all have been educated by now, in the all-important layers of protection.

School districts already struggle to maintain their school buildings with the current provincial funding. When staff and parents call for better ventilation in schools, is that even grounded in reality?

It’s the middle of August now, and parents’ ongoing fears have ramped up. Parents are witnessing stories on the news of long COVID disabling children, a risk of an associated inflammatory disease on top of the extremely contagious Delta variant. With a scheduled protest led by parents coming up this Saturday at the Vancouver Art Gallery, people have a simple achievable goal to get behind: mask mandating.

Here’s another safety issue people don’t often think about: staffing. Is the school year starting this year with healthy properly trained staff? Or are burned out educators diving out of the profession only to be quickly replaced by the ill prepared? Staff using seclusion rooms and physical restraints on disabled children in this province have increased during COVID and are huge safety and trauma issues for all.

With the rise in mental health needs and online social platforms, is the increase in bullying going undocumented? The government touts an ERASE website to help children deal with bullying, but with it being inaccessible to many neurodiverse, disabled and second language learners, it’s just lipstick on a pig. How safe do children feel in school now? Have we asked?

Budgets have been cut, staff deleted, distant learning options removed, and no mask mandate is currently in place. Another rocky school year is ready to go. Do we all feel safe yet? Feel free to write to your MLA and let them know.

Kim Block, Burnaby