B.C. parents keep kids home from school in 'Sick Out' protest
VANCOUVER -- Parents who believe more needs to be done to make B.C. schools safe for students and staff were encouraged to keep their kids home on Tuesday, as part of a province-wide “Sick Out” protest.
“There are a lot of people posting they kept their kids home, we’ve had parents post they found out about it this morning, sent their kids to school, and went and got them and brought them home again,” said Aldergrove mom Tara Kurtz who organized “Sick Out B.C.”
One of the parents who kept their kids out of school is North Vancouver’s Lisa Laturnus, who has a son in Grade 9 and a daughter in Grade 4. She also has brain and adrenal cancer.
“Every day I’m worried that they’re going to come home and they’re going to be sick, and my life is going to be cut short,” said Laturnus. “I take a risk every day just letting them go to school, because that’s where they want to be, and I want them to be happy.”
She hopes the protest gets the province’s attention and leads to changes in COVID-19 protocol in schools.
“My biggest concerns are the cohorts are mixing, they are still doing P.E. which makes no sense to me at all,” Laternus said. She’d also like to see smaller class sizes and mandatory masks.
The protest organizers want the same thing. “We are really hoping the government’s going to listen,“ said Kurtz. “We have an email campaign running today, as well as a petition. And we hope by flooding the message into them they will realize parents are saying enough, we stand behind our teachers, we stand behind our schools, we need to make these changes.”
In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Education said, “We understand parents’ concerns, like all of us, they want to ensure the safety of their children and their families. We will continue to work with the PHO and our education partners to address the concerns of families and to ensure K-12 guidelines and school district safety plans are providing the safest possible learning environments for students and staff as we navigate a global pandemic together.”
Laternus says if students skipping a day of school doesn’t have an impact, some parents may remove their kids from the classroom permanently.
“I could see a lot of people starting to pull their kids, and I think it’s happening already. And that’s unfortunate, because the kids need to be at school,” she said.
Laternus’ son Case and daughter Reese will return to class on Wednesday, despite the risks to her health.
“I struggle because realistically, because of how sick I am, they should be home,” she said. “I just couldn’t break their hearts, I just couldn’t keep their home. They want to be in school.”