B.C. Teachers Launch Petition for Government to Provide Teachers and Educators with N95 Masks and Face Shields

Link to release: https://redforbced.ca/b-c-teachers-launch-petition/

Over 250 signers in first day, goal for 5,000 signers in the first week, aim is to help the government prepare for a safe reopening of schools in September

For immediate release
Contact: Tom Kertes (778-884-5343 or tomkertes@gmail.com)

Media Page

(British Columbia) One week into the reopening of schools in B.C., teachers launched a grassroots petition calling on the government to:

  • Provide teachers and other educators with N95 Respirator Masks
  • Provide teachers and other educators with Face Shields
  • Provide PPE as an option for all students in all B.C. schools  

The petition, launched on June 4, 2020 and hosted on Change.org, received over 250 signers on the first day, drawing support from families of B.C. students, teachers, and other educators who want to reopen schools safely for students and educators.

Petition organizers have set the goal for over 5,000 signers in the first week – to send a message on behalf of teachers and families that B.C. wants schools to be reopened safely. The hope is this will help the government be better prepared for the next stage of a safe reopening, which is likely to occur with back-to-school in September.

Links to the petition can be found at https://RedForBCED.ca, a blog on professional issues and public education. Teachers are reaching out using social media to families and other professionals to get the word out about the petition.

“As professionals, teachers have an ethical duty to protect their students,” said petition organizer and teacher Tom Kertes. “Even if students don’t spread as much of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 as adults can spread, teachers should be provided N95 respirator masks and face shields to limit the spread from adults to children and teens in schools, and to limit the spread between teachers and other educators in schools.”

As essential workers, teachers provide students with the essential service of education and schools also provide a safe place for children to be while parents or guardians are at work. As schools reopen, density will increase, with teachers and other educators working in close proximity to other people, of all ages, for extended periods of time. Many classrooms, especially in older schools, lack ventilation, access to outside air, and central air.

“Teachers are proud to be essential workers and want to see schools reopen safely,” said Kertes. “We know that in-person schooling works best for the vast majority of students. That’s why teachers want to  see protections put in place, including N95 respirator masks and face shields for teachers and other educators.”

Teachers must work closely with students and other adults to do their jobs. Physical distancing is not possible in many educational contexts, such as with young students and students with complex learning needs. 

Given the nature of the job, N95 respirator masks and face shields are essential to protect the health and safety of teachers, which in turn helps protect students and will help B.C. reopen schools for all students safely in September.