Home-sewn masks help people contain their own droplets, but before going out, ensure a secure fit and don’t fiddle with it or touch your face until you return and remove it. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Home-sewn masks help people contain their own droplets, but before going out, ensure a secure fit and don’t fiddle with it or touch your face until you return and remove it. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Chilliwack teachers and EAs concerned with health and safety plans

As schools get ready to open, many worry measures won’t be enough to protect students from COVID-19

School staff who work the closest with students will not be required to wear masks or gloves on the job in Chilliwack.

Educational assistants (EAs) are in close physical contact with students throughout their shifts, often working with children with special needs who require physical assistance continually. With schools reopening here on Monday, June 1, many are voicing concerns over that lack of required personal protection equipment (PPE).

Several EAs and teachers in the Chilliwack School District have contacted The Progress regarding the reopening plan, highlighting problematic areas. They don’t want to use their names for fear of reprisal.

“Those of us who work with kids requiring medical procedures, toileting, feeding, etc., we will not be provided with anything,” one elementary school EA said. “We were told again today (May 28) to just do what we’ve always done.”

EAs are “stunned,” she said.

While the school district says that everyone is to be respected for their decision to wear masks or other protective equipment, it is not being required. PPE is also not being provided by the district.

When questioned by the public during a Q&A session at the end of the May 26 school board meeting, the acting superintendent said they are following guidelines from the provincial health officer and the Ministry of Education.

READ MORE: In-class learning optional for students in Chilliwack

“On all of the ministry documentation that has come out since March 17 … they talk about the fact that when it comes to a school setting it is not required,” Rohan Arul-pragasam said. If the ministry or Dr. Bonnie Henry were to make changes to recommendations, the district would follow those changes, he added.

But there are other concerns in keeping children, staff and teachers safe in an environment that includes a lot of touch points. That includes playgrounds, which will be open to students to use.

Another concern is washrooms.

One teacher said they’ve been told the washrooms will be cleaned twice a day.

“Is that really enough?” she wonders.

“Many guidelines that have been set out by The Ministry of Health and WorkSafe BC are not being implemented in schools,” she adds. “Some safety protocol is being ignored. We are also being told in SD33 that our only choices are medical leave or leave without pay, when the government said teachers with underlying conditions would be given accommodations to work remotely.”

Overall, she says, there is a “long list of problems… and we are being given no reassurances.”

Arul-pragasam answered numerous questions in the question period, and that video is available on the Chilliwack School District’s YouTube channel. He said they want to try to encourage as many students as possible to return to class, and that they are connecting with families right up until the end of the day Friday (May 29) to get a full picture of what to expect on Monday.

“I’m optimistic that we are going to have a population attend in a timely manner staring June 1, which would mean all the schools will be full, given the new safety measures.”

Parents with detailed questions or concerns should contact their school administration directly, he added.

READ MORE: More COVID-19 restrictions being lifted across the country


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Chilliwack School District

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

Just Posted

Alisa Gusakova was one of two Grade 12 Chilliwack students who received a $5,000 Horatio Alger Canadian Scholarship earlier this year. Now, a fundraiser has been created for the teen after her mother was killed. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fundraiser launched for daughter of Chilliwack woman killed

Money raised will help Chilliwack teen attend UFV to earn business degree

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

Agassiz Fire Department has been called to an ATV rollover on Harrison East Forest Service Road on Sunday, April 18, 2021. (Google Maps)
Agassiz Fire called out to ATV rollover incident on Harrison FSR

Morning call follows exceptionally busy Saturday as temperatures soar in Fraser Valley

A Chilliwack Search and Rescue truck heads down Vedder Road towards Cultus Lake to assist a dirtbiker with a broken leg. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Emergency crews, SAR busy with three separate outdoor recreation incidents in Chilliwack area

Calls in 1 afternoon include ATV collision, parachuter who fell from tree, dirtbiker with broken leg

There were no lineups or crowds at the centre today at noon, with voters walking straight to the ballot box. Patrick Penner / Mission Record.
No lineups today for advance voting at Mission Leisure Centre

Advance voting takes place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Sunday; general election day on April 24

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of April 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read