B.C. dad threatens lawsuit over province's back-to-school plan
VANCOUVER -- Ten-year-old Max Trest has asthma, so he didn’t return to his Grade 5 classroom when part time in-person learning resumed in June.
“I just thought it was unsafe, so I decided not to go,” said Max.
He was looking forward to starting Grade 6 in the gifted program at Crescent Park Elementary School in Surrey in September, so and he and his dad looked for details of how students can return safely in the province’s back to school plan that was announced Wednesday.
“I sat down with Max, we decided to watch the press conference together, and what we heard was utterly shocking,” said Bernard Trest, Max’s father.
B.C.’s plan calls for elementary school students return to the classroom full time in cohorts of 60, with no physical distancing requirement and no masks.
Most high school students would also return full time with cohorts of up to 120, and would have no mask mandate.
“To hear Bonnie Henry and also Fleming on TV tell us this is safe to return to schools under the conditions they’ve stipulated is ridiculous,” said Bernard Trest.
The elder Trest much prefers Ontario’s back-to-school plan, which would have elementary school students stay with their classroom groups exclusively, and high school students learning in-person only half the time, in classes no larger than 15. Students in Grades 4 through 12 will be required to wear masks.
“I would feel safe coming back to my classroom if all of my students and myself wore masks,” said Rockridge Secondary School history teacher Jessica Selzer, who lives with a relative who’s immuno-compromised. “I’m very concerned that its going to be a full return. Ontario’s plan, I feel like, is safer.”
“What would make me happy in this moment is to follow Ontario’s model,” he said. “Mask mandate for (Grades) 4 to 12 or something along those lines. Ensuring cohorts are small, and obviously physical distancing.”
He started a Facebook group to rally other parents who are worried B.C.’s back to school plan is dangerous, and he’s considering legal action.
“What I’d like to do is seek a class action lawsuit against the government. I feel that Horgan, Henry and Fleming are personally responsible if even a single child becomes infected or dies,” said Trest.
He’s encouraging teachers and students who are worried about their health to stay away from schools in September.
“They cannot fire thousands of teachers if they don’t feel safe and they don’t show up,” said Trest.
He said he’ll continue to homeschool Max unless masks are mandated and cohorts are made smaller.
“So I plan to continue having him learn from home, we create our own assignments,” said Trest. But he insists “that’s unfair to my son.”