KEEP "RETURN TO SCHOOL" IN BC ON OPTIONAL OR VOLUNTARY BASIS IN SEPTEMBER 2020
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The BC Government announced that returning to school in September 2020 will be mandatory for all children unless a doctor’s note can be presented. The government is pressuring our kids to go back to school even though it is still unsafe as COVID-19 cases are increasing consistently on a daily basis, and yet they just keep repeating that “this is a robust plan”, in hope for our buy-in.
CDC Guidelines strongly recommend masks wherever social distancing can be difficult, yet the BC Government’s return to school plan actually has no basic safety guidelines or measures. They suggest that no physical distancing is required within learning groups (cohort) and masks are not mandatory because they believe that children and youth are safe, and that they do not transmit the virus. However, recent studies have demonstrated evidence that children and youth are susceptible to the virus, and that they can also transmit the virus to others! The recent Georgia Youth Camp paper is a prime case that adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are indeed susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6931e1.htm?s_cid=mm6931e1_x Another example is a large contact tracing study out of South Korea, where evidence shows that kids 9 years old and younger were less likely to transmit the virus within households than older children, but were similar to adults ages 20-39. Older children, surprisingly, had the highest percentage of household contacts test positive for COVID-19 out of all the age groups (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1315_article?deliveryName=USCDC_333-DM33334
Keeping in mind that the current plan for September is to have learning groups sized 60-120 (grades dependent), this plan is contrary to the recommendation of "fewer faces, bigger spaces".
Other provinces, sovereign nations, and countries tackled reopening schools successfully by installing physical barriers (such as plexiglass) in schools at students’ desks and masks are required when the students leave their desks. However, the BC government is mandating insufficient safety infrastructure in the schools, especially with regards to physical distancing, safety barriers, and masks. It is irresponsible to require students to return to class at full capacity in September 2020, despite acknowledging that social distancing is not possible.
This “Plan” to try and forcefully put our kids back to school on a mandatory basis is extremely irresponsible. This decision is unsafe and will put many people’s lives at risk, especially high risk individuals in students' households. To make it mandatory is a suppression of parents’ rights to keep their own kids safe. Each household should be allowed to exercise their own right to make the decision to return, based on their family circumstances to ensure what is the most appropriate and safe measure for the members of their own family.
In-class instructions should remain voluntary until there are clear evidence-based plans, guidelines, measures, enforcement and infrastructure in place for our schools to ensure that all people involved - our kids, the staff, and their families - can be safe. It is irresponsible to assume that students and school staff won’t further infect others and bring the virus home; UNTIL THAT HAPPENS, the return to schools should NOT be mandatory.
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