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Press Release: Protect Our Province BC and Allies Issue Joint Open Letter to BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside

Protect Our Province BC and allies are coming together to demand stronger COVID-19 safety protocols in BC schools.

Schools are the perfect setting for COVID-19 transmission via aerosols across both short and longer distances.

Schools and classrooms are indoor congregate settings where children spend hours together with other children and staff in spaces that are too often poorly ventilated. BC health authorities have stated that schools merely reflect community transmission, but the truth is that schools are COVID-19 amplifiers, especially when mitigation measures are not in place.  For example, a Boston, Massachusetts study revealed that universal masking policies in schools significantly reduced student and staff illness, resulting in markedly less missed days of school.

“Schools, just like children, are not islands. COVID-19 transmission between school and community is bi-directional,” says Dr. Lyne Filiatrault, Protect Our Province BC member.

Children can also be negatively affected by COVID-19 infections. More BC children have been hospitalized during the Omicron waves of 2022 than the entire previous 2 years of the pandemic (compare BCCDC situation reports: Week 1 and Week 32, 2022, p.7). Also, Long Covid in children is well-documented. And a CDC report, released on Aug. 5, 2022, explained how children who caught COVID-19 are more likely to be diagnosed with serious illnesses within a year of their infection, including cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and renal failure.

To open BC schools now with Omicron’s highly transmissible, vaccine evading sub-variants circulating, and with no mandated health protections plus poor child COVID-19 vaccine uptake (only 46% of BC’s 5 to 11 year olds have had two vaccine doses as of July 31) will predictably lead to rampant COVID-19 infections and reinfections within schools with subsequent spread to the community. BC parents have already lived through this when Omicron first appeared and school reopened last January.

A look south of the border shows us what we can expect to happen. Some schools that have already opened without any mitigation have been forced to close because of COVID-19 outbreaks or have switched to remote learning.

This is extremely disruptive to children’s learning and it is stressful for their parents.

It does not have to be. Protect our Province and its allies demand that proven SMART mitigation strategies based on SARS-CoV-2 aerosol transmission be put in place now to ensure a safe school reopening:

●     Stay home when symptomatic

●     Mask-up (N95, KN95 or KF94)

●     Air cleaners in every classroom

●     Refresh indoor air

●     Test, Trace and Isolate policies (based on aerosol spread)

More details about these mitigation strategies are included in the Open Letter, attached to this press release.

“Protecting schools protects the community, including our workforce and our collapsing healthcare system” says Dr. Karina Zeidler, co-founder of Protect Our Province BC and trustee candidate for Vancouver School Board with the Vote Socialist municipal party.

Finally, BC’s Public Health strategy needs to shift from an individual responsibility approach to acting collectively to care for the whole community and leave no one behind.  As Jennifer Heighton, teacher and co-founder of Safe Schools Coalition BC and Protect our Province BC, puts it, “One of the cornerstones of public education in Canada is that all children have the right to access school. Universal masking in schools is a human rights issue. It allows all students, all children and families to participate in the public education system.”

Read the Open Letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside demanding COVID-19 safety protocols in BC schools

Protect Our Province BC is a grassroots group of physicians, nurses, health scientists, health policy specialists and community advocates. We are working together to help people in BC stay safe by sharing accurate information about the COVID-19 pandemic in BC, and advocating for policies based on the best available science. Our ultimate goal is to end this pandemic through a vaccine-plus strategy that includes addressing how this virus spreads through aerosols.

Safe Schools Coalition BC is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-union, parent- and teacher-led organization striving for improved, evidence-based COVID-19 safety protocols, primarily in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 public education system.

BC School Covid Tracker is a citizen initiative for transparency of data in schools affected by COVID in British Columbia. Our goal is to make information on COVID cases in schools available, accessible, intelligible, yet anonymized, to school stakeholders (parents and school staff members) so that the school community is able to make safety decisions for themselves and families.

Media Contacts:

Dr. Lyne Filiatrault, Protect Our Province BC, contact@protectbc.ca,

Jennifer Heighton, Safe Schools Coalition BC, info@safeschoolscoalitionbc.com

Kathy Marliss, BC School Covid Tracker, bcschoolcovid@protonmail.com

Archived Briefings from Protect Our Province BC

In honor of February being Heart Month, cardiologist Dr. Leslie Kasza joined Protect our Province BC’s Dr. Susan Kuo for a discussion on COVID-19’s impact on heart health and how you can reduce your risk. Don’t be fooled into thinking it won’t happen to you because you are _________, fill in the blank: young, healthy vaccinated and/or you only had a mild infection, etc.
A Protect Our Province BC panel discussion about how we as a community, can pull together to create a safer learning environment for kids when school starts again in September! We can avoid another ‘tripledemic’ if we work together! Ready for Fall 2023? Briefing video:
“COVID-19 vaccination is safe during pregnancy and may protect newborns from infection, especially if vaccines are given in the second or third trimester. This is similar to what we are already doing with other maternal vaccines, including TDaP and seasonal influenza.” – Dr. Eastabrook

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