'I'm very nervous about going back': B.C. teachers awaiting back to school plan
VANCOUVER -- When schools reopened for limited in-person instruction in June, not all teachers returned to the classroom. Jessica Selzer, a history teacher at Rockridge Secondary in West Vancouver, continued teaching from home.
“Because of my family situation, I was not able to go back into the classroom in June. I take care of my mother, who is immunocompromised,” said Selzer.
With B.C.’s back to school plan set to be announced on Wednesday, Selzer is worried she’ll be expected to go back to teaching full classes in September.
“I love my job, I love teaching students, I love teaching history, but I’m very nervous about not just my health and safety, but my mother's health and safety and also that of my students and their families,” she said.
“There was a recent study done published by the CDC that actually said children aged 10 and up transmit COVID the same as an adult, which is very concerning especially for high school teachers,” said Selzer. “30 kids in classroom, there is no social distancing, there is barely room for 30 kids.”
She’d like to see masks mandated for teachers and students in high schools, and she’s not alone.
“The high school students would be good about wearing masks, they know and understand why it’s important,” said Denise Nembhard, a home economics teachers at Sir Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam. “So if students are going to come back, I’d like them wearing masks, and I will be wearing masks too.”
On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry shot down the idea of requiring masks in classrooms as part of the back to school plan.
“I understand the reluctance to mandate masks, but a reccomendation would be helpful,” said B.C. Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring. “Masks are something our members have really focused on.”
Selzer will wear a mask when she returns in September, but if her students aren’t wearing them and classrooms are at full capacity, she may have decide between her mother’s health and her job.
“I hope I’m not asked to make a kind of Sophie’s Choice,” said Selzer. “I’m hoping the ministry and Dr. Henry will have our health and safety at the forefront of their minds.”