After a nearly week-long delay to the start of the school semester, most kids in B.C. are back in the classroom.
But many families, especially those who are immunocompromised, have made the decision not to send their children back due to concerns around the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Vancouver mom Tarya Morel said her 17-year-old daughter went back to class, but she opted to keep her ten-year-old son at home.
Morel has pre-existing health conditions, leaving her more vulnerable to serious illness if she contracted COVID-19. She and her daughter are fully immunized, while her son is not yet eligible for his second dose.
“We are coming up on this perfect storm of lots and lots of people getting sick. Lots of people getting sick and a lot of them needing hospitalizations and, simultaneously, a lot of health-care workers getting sick and (therefore) fewer people to take care of them,” Morel said.
“Given that we have medically vulnerability, it would be so nice if we had support and options to be able to keep us as COVID-free as possible. If we do need hospital care, now is not the time.”
Morel homeschooled both kids from March 2020 until school returned last September.
She said she was concerned her daughter’s graduation could be seriously affected if she missed too many days of class. She said the girl plans to eat her lunch outside and to keep her mask on, while attempting to keep her distance, indoors.
Morel said she’d like the province to provide additional support for virtual learning to allow students to continue their studies, coupled with in-person learning for those who require it.
“I am trying to navigate a return to school in the height of the worst we have seen the pandemic so far,” she said.
“I am one of thousands of people out there with pre-existing medical conditions that predispose us to having more severe illness if we caught COVID. Especially now after we have worked so hard for two years to send them back, this is the time when we need to do everything we can to keep everyone safe.”
BC Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said many teachers are more likely to get severely ill from COVID or live with vulnerable people.
Some teachers have received health exemptions, she added, but it means fewer staff on hand to keep schools open.
“Teachers who are medically vulnerable or who have family members who are medically vulnerable — this is a very stressful time. That is why we think N95 masks should be available. We need teachers workers,” Mooring said.
“For students, they have they right to their education no matter their vulnerabilities, and this should be an easy answer. We know not all teachers would use them. But those that choose to would have that option.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.