Parents want to see new safety plan before students return to classes after school outbreak
VANCOUVER -- Students and staff at a Surrey, B.C. elementary are halfway through their two-week quarantine prompted by an outbreak at their school.
Cambridge Elementary is scheduled to reopen its doors next week, but before letting their children return to the classroom, some parents are raising concerns.
“I think a lot of us feel that it's not safe,” said Kimberly Laing, whose two children attend the school. “A lot of parents have already indicated that they don't plan to send their children back, and those parents that are planning to send their children back are really wanting an updated safety plan.”
Laing said parents have been discussing the changes they’d like to see on a Facebook page.
Those measures include introducing a mask mandate, reducing class sizes, improving supervision to ensure cohorts don’t mix, and enhancing cleaning.
“We really need to relook at those school plans and make sure that there's something better going in,” Laing said.
The superintendent for the Surrey School District said an assessment of Cambridge Elementary will take place later in the week with Fraser Health.
Jordan Tinney said a second assessment will take place after students return.
“(The assessment) includes things like looking at all of the protocols around distancing, around cleaning, around movement within the school,” he explained.
Tinney said the outbreak at Cambridge may help prevent other transmissions from happening.
“What's different at Cambridge compared to the other schools?" he said. "Some of them have had no notice of exposure at all, so we want to know what is it about the protocols at Cambridge and what can we learn from the other schools."
The district is grappling with growing exposures in educational settings.
Since Friday, there have been 22 exposure notices that have gone out to families in Surrey.
“It's just a reflection of the time: The cases are going to go up and when the cases go up, we're going to see more exposures in our schools,” Tinney said.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation believes there should be a regional approach to schools in the Fraser Health region.
“Unfortunately, even in the health authority where we're seeing the highest number of cases, we're not seeing anything different happening in schools,” said Teri Mooring, president of the BCTF. “We don't want to wait until we see a lot more in school transmissions, we'd rather, you know, be preventative and proactive than reactive.”
The BCTF is calling for a mask mandate and a class size limit of 15 in the Fraser Health region.
Both the BCTF and Tinney are calling on families to help talk to their kids about wearing masks and physical distancing.