The Prince George District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) understands the concerns surrounding a full return to in-class instruction next month.

(Photo supplied by DPAC Facebook page)

It seems to be a divided issue among parents in BC as a recent petition calling for an optional or voluntary return to the classroom has garnered over 20-thousand signatures so far.

DPAC Chair, Andrea Beckett spoke with MyPGNow.com.

“A petition is a good way to have a voice heard as it lines up with what we hear from our parents as there is a large portion who are unsure and don’t feel safe about sending their kids back but we also have a huge chunk of parents who are ok with that and are very trusting in seeing their kids go back to school.”

“We haven’t had any outbreaks in schools or child care settings, I understand where parents are coming from it’s scary and it doesn’t mean we couldn’t have an outbreak. I am glad to see them using their voice and that’s what we are here for. We also spoke with our BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Council rep who is local and it was very collaborative process so I think the decision was made with very good knowledge.”

(Graphic supplied by BC Government)

Beckett mentioned the lack of options parents have if they choose to keep their kids at home.

“If parents do choose to keep their kids at home, then they take over the responsibility for schooling because it isn’t a hybrid model unless there are specific schools or circumstances for health reasons that have since been arranged.”

“I know there are a lot of people who have said a lot of the details on the restart plan are very unclear and that’s because every school district needs to outline the specifics of the safety measures themselves due to the fact that every school district is unique. We obviously aren’t the same as Surrey or Vancouver and every school is unique so even our elementary schools are variant.”

On Tuesday, the Alberta Government announced additional safety measures in response to its restart plan for schools.

This included mandatory mask use for Grades 4 to 12 students where it will be required in all public spaces with the choice of wearing them while in class.

All staff will be asked to mask up in settings where two-meters of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Beckett stated if a similar measure was adopted in BC, the move would come with several challenges, especially those in the younger grades.

“Speaking as a nurse and as a mom, if you have ever seen kids wearing masks how often they then start touching their face, for kids it increases their rate of contact I would suspect. Any parent who has had to have their kids in a mask, and I take mine to Costco with it on and I think I spend more time telling them to put it back on or tell them to keep their hands off. It’s one thing for high schoolers to accomplish but for elementary students, this would be very difficult.”

Classes are expected to resume on September 8th.