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

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Firefighters were called to a grass fire on a hillside slope behind the post office in Summerland on Friday shortly before 2 p.m. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Firefighters extinguish blaze behind Summerland Post Office

Fire on hillside slope occurred Friday, June 18 shortly before 2 p.m.

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Emergency crews responded to Highway 97 after a motorcycle incident. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Motorcyclist taken to hospital after collision on Highway 97

It is not known the extent of their injuries

The illegal open fire above Naramata continues to smoke on Friday, June 18. The fire was left to burn itself out by BC Wildfire. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Illegal open burn in Naramata will be left to smoke

BC Wildfire could not confirm whether the property owner had been fined

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Most Read