FILE – A empty classroom is pictured at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

The union representing B.C. teachers has filed an application, asking the Labour Relations Board to look into concerns raised about working conditions in classrooms.

In a message to teachers, BC Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said the application was filed Thursday (Sept. 17).

The application relates to section 88 of the Labour Relations Code, which pertains to in-differences within a collective agreement between employers – in this case the B.C. government – and the employees.

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close. Each school district was tasked to create safety guidelines in late August – with general direction from the province – for how it would combat COVID-19 transmission among students and staff.

This includes mask-use policies in hallways and busy areas, physical distancing between desks and other guidelines, slightly varying between each school district.

But since students headed back to class last week, teachers across the province have been voicing their growing concerns about inconsistencies and inadequate implementation of the safety measures.

Mooring said during a news conference Friday that she has heard some schools are rationing masks or not enforcing wearing masks alltogether.

“For a classroom teacher, if my room isn’t cleaned or my administrator won’t give me a shield it doesn’t rise to the level of WorkSafe’s definition of unsafe work.”

Mooring has also said that teachers are “feeling pressured to work in unsafe conditions and are demanding significant changes to ensure they and their students are protected.”

In a seperate news conference, Education Minister Rob Fleming did not directly refute the union’s claims, but downplayed the severity of any concerns.

“In the constant communication I have with people who work in the school system … what you’re seeing around the province is an incredible amount of teamwork and the focus is on the huge task that’s been accomplished,” he said.

He told reporters that the B.C. government has “always anticipated that there would be tweaks and fixes required,” noting B.C. has fared better than other provinces on its return-to-school rollout.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC politicsCoronavirusEducation

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

Just Posted

The Kildonan mansion at 931 Foul Bay Rd. is part of the Oak Bay heritage registry. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay declines Kildonan House permissive tax exemption

Council briefs include new transformer for Oak Bay Rec., strata policy

A mature Garry oak fell onto Richmond Road on Oct. 13 near Camosun College Lansdowne campus. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Garry oak crashes down onto Richmond Road

Saanich responded to 59 tree-related calls

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

A woman was injured cycling, prompting road closures in Oak Bay on Oct. 16. (Twitter/Ray Bernoties)
‘Erratic’ cyclists potential cause of rider injured in Oak Bay

Female cyclist was reportedly injured at Hampshire Road and Bowker Creek Avenue

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read