U.S. families want border exemption for kids to attend B.C. schools
VANCOUVER -- Brady Nelson and his family are moving.
Not because they want to leave their home in Point Roberts, Wash., but because Brady and his wife are worried about their daughters’ education.
They’ve been paying to send their girls to school in Delta for years, but when the border closed because of the pandemic, so too did their door to B.C. schooling.
“They’re shut out of access in Canada, which means they’re shut out of accessing their school, their activities, their friendships,” Nelson told CTV News.
Nelson’s daughters are among several dozen children who live in the U.S. near the border, but who study and play sports in B.C. They want education deemed “essential” so they can travel daily between B.C. and their American homes.
“Some of these children, the Canadian school system is all they know. They’ve grown up in it. Their families may be (dual citizens),” says Point Roberts Fire Chief Christopher Carleton, who has been speaking with the families and is worried about the mental health of those living in his isolated community.
Point Roberts is geographically separated from the rest of the U.S. with water on three sides and the Canadian border to the north.
“The stress my community is going through at the adult level is also impacting our children,” he said.
Nelson believes education should be deemed “essential."
“We’re not asking them to have free access to go back and forth. They’re going there under very specific circumstances. School or school activity,” he explains.
He points out that there have been no cases of COVID-19 in Point Roberts.
However, the Washington State Department of Health indicates there have been more than 64,000 confirmed cases of the virus in that state.
Nelson says he can understand there might be reluctance to make an exemption, but argues families are willing to do what is necessary to make it work.
“If the government wants to give us tests daily or as deemed necessary, that’s fair. I understand that,” he says.
In an email to CTV News, the Public Health Agency of Canada says that ahead of the school year, it “has clarified that students crossing the border to attend school on a daily basis are not exempt from the 14-day quarantine period.”
Meanwhile, B.C.’s Education Ministry says it "is working with the federal government to ensure international students arriving in B.C. adhere to current health and safety rules and regulations, including self-isolation requirements, upon arrival.”
Nelson says with his daughters’ education in jeopardy, moving to another part of Washington state is the right decision for his family.
“It’s very hard. It’s very hard. We have a whole life here. We’re doing this for our children and what we think is the best decision for them,” he said.