A physical distancing sign is seen during a media tour of Hastings Elementary school in Vancouver on September 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Dr. Henry says schools ‘perfectly safe’; BCTF urges teachers affected by smoke to take sick days

Wildfire smoke from the U.S. has led to very poor air quality for much of B.C.

The B.C Teachers’ Federation is urging its members to take sick days this week if the smoke blanketing much of the province is affecting their health.

In a tweet sent out Sunday (Sept. 13) evening, the union said anyone feeling ill on Monday should book a sick day.

“That includes symptoms brought on by the poor air quality. We need to be especially careful with respiratory symptoms because of COVID19,” the union wrote.

In a tweet earlier that day, the BCTF called the combination of COVID-19 and extremely poor air quality “deeply concerning” and called for the province to take action.

“Teachers and students should not be in crowded classes with no ventilation or fresh air.”

During an unrelated press conference, Premier John Horgan said decisions about whether or not schools should open in adverse conditions are made by individual school districts.

“I believe that just like a snow day those are local decisions,” Horgan said.

“I would leave it to those people who deliver education service, who have employees, teachers, support staff, they’ll make those decisions based on the best interests of their communities.”

Speaking on Monday afternoon, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it was “perfectly safe for people to be in school.”

Teachers and students returned to classrooms last week with physical distancing measures, learning groups and mandatory masks for older students in high traffic areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement, the education ministry said that “school districts work with their local health authorities when air quality is poor in various regions across the province and issue health advice based on local conditions.”

Black Press Media has reached out to the BCTF for further comment.

READ MORE: A day before school starts, B.C. teachers’ union still worried over lack of remote learning

READ MORE: U.S. wildfire smoke blankets B.C., wafts east to Alberta


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusEducationSchoolswildfire smoke

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People participating at a Remembrance Day event in Nakusp in 2016. Photo: Jillian Trainor
Scaled-down Remembrance Day event to take place in Nakusp

People are asked to physically distance and wear masks if they attend the event

A view of proposed seniors housing on Vernon St. Illustration: City of Nelson/ Vendure Retirement Communities
Nelson seniors housing project to start construction in the spring

Private development on Vernon Street will provide assisted living services as well as housing

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

NAV CANDA is considering closing its station at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada considering closing station at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization is conducting a service review at Castlegar’s airport

Internet service in the West Kootenay is improving thanks to provincial government grants. File photo
COVID-19 support program brings faster internet to rural communities

The province has provided grants to local internet providers

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports seven more COVID-19 cases

Eighty-nine cases remain active, none of whom are currently hospitalized

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort will be looking to crack the Top 10 Ski Resorts list by USA Today for the second straight year. (Claire Palmer photo)
Kicking Horse nominated as one of North America’s favourite ski resorts

The resort finished in tenth in the same poll last year

Most Read