And how BC and Ontario are dealing with coronavirus on the education front
By Luana Ross, Senior Columnist
Free emergency child care will be available exclusively to those ‘of eligible healthcare’ and to the children of frontline workers.
At this point of the year, some are stating that the third wave of the pandemic is in full swing. BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has made a pointed message that residents should stay close to their homes and in their own neighbourhoods: “If you live in North Van, you should not be travelling to Langley or to Richmond. If you live in the Lower Mainland, you should not be travelling to the Island. If you live in Penticton, you should not be going to Sun Peaks or Oliver or Kelowna right now. We need to only do those types of travel if it is essential, and nothing more.” She goes on to promise that everyone should have access to the vaccine by June.
In Ontario, the CBC reports that the previously reopened in-person classes have been shutdown once again. Doug Ford acknowledges that this isn’t the news people wanted to hear but stresses that Ontario “is at a critical point right now.” Child care will remain open for non-school age children but before and after school programs will be closed; free emergency child care will be available exclusively to those “of eligible healthcare” and to the children of frontline workers.
With the online summer semester ending and the fall semester of in-person classes fast approaching, some wonder how these outbreaks and new restrictions will impact elementary schools, high schools, and post-secondary institutions in BC. Bonnie Henry has been pressed with this question time and time again and her stance for elementary and high schools is that community transmission is more common when kids are out of school, actually. She also mentions that educators and parents complained that the shutdowns “impacted [students] negatively across the board” so she is still not considering that option. This comes after the recent indoor-restaurant shutdowns—and Henry even has stated that sector-wide shutdowns are “really a blunt tool.”
As a fix to for this “blunt tool” of business closures, Henry has given WorkSafeBC inspectors “the power to shut down non-essential businesses for at least 10 days if there has been COVID-19 transmission at the business premises.” This is done in hopes of making targeted closures instead of having to resort to sector shutdowns (which has garnered protest as recently as last Saturday in Vancouver).