Children walk back to their classroom while wearing masks and physical distancing at St. Barnabas Catholic School in Scarborough, Ont., in October, 2020. A group of B.C. teachers has issued an open letter calling for the relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions for children in B.C. schools. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Children walk back to their classroom while wearing masks and physical distancing at St. Barnabas Catholic School in Scarborough, Ont., in October, 2020. A group of B.C. teachers has issued an open letter calling for the relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions for children in B.C. schools. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Group of B.C. teachers calls for easing of pandemic measures for students

Teacher group says ‘response to COVID is out of balance to the cost our youth are paying’

A group of B.C. teachers says the province’s COVID response is causing more harm than good to B.C. students.

The group B.C. Educators for Human Rights issued an open letter to B.C. teachers April 26 and called the response to COVID “out of balance” in relation to children.

“We feel teachers have relinquished the bond of their profession out of fear; our risks are not as great as what has been identified.”

The signatories then ask B.C. teachers to join them. “We implore you to add your voices to ours. Teachers have a part in ensuring children keep the right to their mental and physical health.”

B.C. Educators for Human Rights (BCEHR) signatories, Tabitha Krauskopf (Prince George school district), Anna Chambers (Langley school district), Sarah Rowat (North Okanagan school district), Jessie Duncan-Wersta (private-school system), Jolene Devcic Ryall (North Vancouver school district), Emilie Perron (Vancouver school district), and Meghan Taylor-Macdonald are all B.C. teachers.

“COVID-19 mitigation measures are having a detrimental impact on our children and youth,” reads the letter.

The letter goes through a list of reasons why BCEHR thinks the “response to COVID is out of balance,” including their assertions that: “the risk of dying of COVID-19 in British Columbia is 0.03 per cent … the risk of dying in a car crash in 2019 was approximately 1.22 per cent; asymptomatic spread is rare (0.7 per cent or less); two out of 45,000 teachers in B.C. have been in ICU for COVID. No deaths reported thus far; 211 out of 45,000 teachers in B.C. have WorkSafeBC claims for contracting COVID within the education sector,” among others. (Read the full letter below.)

Krauskopf said her nascent group—which has only been together for about three weeks and already has 50 members and rising—felt obligated to write the letter because teachers are essentially caregivers.

“Most of us got into teaching because we wanted to make a difference.” She said teachers are there to protect, care for and help children. She added mask wearing and non-pharmaceutical interventions that children have to endure are causing them harm. “As professionals working with kids, I don’t know how we can stay silent.”

Krauskopf cited an incident where a young girl fell into a panic attack because she left her sweater outside.

SEE ALSO: Softball B.C. urges provincial health officer to lift ban on gameplay for kids in organized sports

“Other kids were playing, and she knew she wasn’t supposed to cross social-distancing boundaries, and she worked herself into a panic,” Krauskopf said. “That shouldn’t be happening. It’s such a small problem that’s been made into such a big thing, that she would be afraid to go out and get her sweater off the playground when the risk outside is almost nothing.”

Krauskopf said she’s also witnessed kids panicking because they were having a hard time breathing and wouldn’t take their masks off out of fear.

She also cited mental health issues. “You can feel it. It’ll go okay, but depending on what’s happening in the community, or when new health orders are circulated, you can feel how it changes in the classroom and with the kids. They are more depressed and they act out more.”

Krauskopf said she hopes the letter raises awareness among B.C.’s teachers and empowers them to speak up.

“A lot of (the measures) are designed to make people feel safer, but children are at very low risk from COVID.”

She said she wants to empower parents too and let them know teachers are concerned about their kids.

Krauskopf was shocked when she started looking into the mental health status of children over the course of pandemic containment measures.

“There’ve been massive increases in suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and self harm in children as young as nine.”

Krauskopf said Kids Help Phone received 4 million calls in 2020, more than double the amount (1.9 million) they received in 2019. And she cited a report from Hamilton Health Sciences that said McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton has seen a massive spike in youth suicide attempts.

“It’s not just kids. Families are struggling. And child abuse in the home is escalating too,” she noted. “COVID is terrible, and it’s really affecting people, but we need to widen the lens now and start looking at how we can help children.”

She said that help includes a relaxation of mask-wearing rules in schools and a decrease in some of the social-distancing measures. She also wants to see sports reopen for children.

“I’d like kids to just be able to start being kids again, especially when the risks are so low outside.”

B.C. Educators for Human Rights can be found at facebook.com/BCEdforHumanRights.

FULL LETTER FROM B.C. EDUCATORS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS:



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusEducationSchools

Just Posted

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens after accident at Taylor River Flats

Multi-vehicle crash had closed highway to west coast

Grade 12 graduates Jada Touchie, Timothy Masso and Brendan Brown are all smiles after receiving their Goodies for the Grads gift packs thanks to a small neighbourhood grant from the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet Secondary School grads set to parade through town

Family and friends can cheer on the Class of 2021 this Saturday, June 19 at 4:30 p.m.

From left, Ahousaht First Nation Hereditary Chief Richard George presents a $10,000 cheque to Tofino Hatchery manager Doug Palfrey alongside Tyler Huebner of TCH Contracting The funds will go towards rebuilding Cypre river Chinook. (Carallyn Bowes photo)
Tofino Hatchery receives $10K donation

Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society tackling massive drop in Chinook salmon stocks

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

This rendering shows the potential layout for a 40-unit staff housing cooperative being proposed by the Pac Rim Home Development Cooperative in Ucluelet. (Image from www.prhdc.ca)
Pac Rim Cooperative pitches staff housing project in Ucluelet

“We’re looking at it as if it’s like a resort for employees”

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy patbaywebcam.com.
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum speaks at a press conference in August 2019 about provincial government approval of the city’s change to a municipal force, joined by councillors (from left) Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford. Members of the National Police Federation claim there is still no transition plan in place although Surrey RCMP’s contract with the city is due to end March 31.(File photo)
Elections BC approves petition application for referendum on Surrey policing transition

Application was filed under Recall and Initiative Act by the widow of a Surrey murder victim

There were 255 babies born in Victoria in May 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic baby boom makes for a busier Vancouver Island Father’s Day

Victoria’s 255 babies born in May up almost 10 per cent over last year

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko, a Vancouver lawyer, has been suspended from practice for two months after admitting that his firm mismanaged $44,353.19 in client trust funds. (Acumen Law)
High-profile B.C. lawyer suspended over $44K in mismanaged client trust funds

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko admits he failed to supervise his staff and find or report the shortages

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

Most Read