The Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association is asking for immediate closure of schools, saying wildfire smoke responses are in conflict with COVID-19 protocols. (Black Press Media file photo)

Greater Victoria teachers calling for schools to close due to poor air quality

Teachers’ association says SD61’s air quality response conflicts with COVID-19 safety protocols

Greater Victoria teachers are calling for the immediate closure of the region’s schools until air quality improves.

Air quality is in the high or very high health risk levels for communities across B.C., including Greater Victoria, which is expected to stay smoky until at least Thursday. The poor air quality, caused by wildfires burning in California, Oregon and Washington, comes with a provincial warning to avoid strenuous outdoor activities and for children to avoid all outdoor physical exertion.

The Greater Victoria Teacher’s Association (GVTA) issued a statement Monday calling on the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) to close schools, arguing that the school district’s plan for a ‘hold and secure’ is in direct conflict with COVID-19 exposure mitigation protocols, such as opening windows, maximizing ventilation and moving activities and classes outdoors when possible.

READ ALSO: Wildfire smoke lingers over Greater Victoria

READ ALSO: Canada Post to suspend delivery to parts of B.C. due to wildfire smoke

On Sunday, SD61 acknowledged the region’s poor air quality and asked schools in areas with high smoke density to practice strategies similar to a hold and secure, such as keeping windows and doors closed during the school day and keeping students who can’t tolerate the smoke inside during recess and lunch breaks.

SD61 added all COVID-19 health and safety control measures remain in place.

But the GVTA counters that the two policies can’t operate in tandem. Having students indoors, without masks and opportunities for outdoor learning is dangerous, the association says.

“This is a recipe for COVID transmission,” the GVTA writes. “And students and staff will not be safe.”

Environment Canada extended its smoke warning early Monday afternoon.

“Very heavy smoke from the United States is continuing to have extensive impacts across the southern third of the province with lesser impacts extending into the mid-regions of the province. Smoky conditions are expected to be variable but persist in areas currently being impacted until Thursday (Sept 17).”

READ ALSO: Learning groups, scattered lunches new norm for Greater Victoria students


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

CoronavirusGreater Victoria School Districtwildfire smoke

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

Just Posted

Thieves harvest from 11 unlocked cars in Oak bay

Looting unlocked cars called ‘farming,’ says deputy chief

Friday night tickets affect Saturday behaviour at the University of Victoria

Saanich police see direct response after issuing several $230 fines

Sidney part of a region that suffers ‘chronic shortage’ of daycare spaces

Consultants find that Sidney needs 233 new spaces to meet the current demand for daycare

HMCS Victoria popping up as training sessions underway

MARPAC says plume of smoke normal for recharging submarine

West Shore RCMP seeks video footage after homeowner interrupts Colwood break and enter

Police were called to 600-block of Stornoway Drive late Sunday

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

COVID-19 liquor, music rules extended with fines

‘Nightclubs must cease operating as nightclubs’

Carole James heads ‘caretaker’ B.C. government

James is among 15 MLAs retiring at the end of their current term

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Most Read