Nearly half of B.C. teachers say they don't feel safe at work

teacher mask

With the COVID-19 pandemic well into its fourth wave in B.C., a survey of teachers in the province suggests nearly half don't feel safe at work.

Results from a poll conducted by the B.C. Teachers' Federation surveyed nearly 6,000 union members. While about 46 per cent indicated they feel at least somewhat safe at work, 42 per cent said they did not. 

The survey also revealed 51 per cent didn't think the health-and-safety measures in schools are adequate to keep everyone safe.

"Given the near impossibility of physical distancing in most B.C. classrooms, other safety measures become even more important. Masks are now mandated for all (kindergarten to Grade 12) students and adults working in schools," a summary of the survey's results says.

"However, 53 per cent of teachers feel that the frequency of cleaning/sanitation in schools is inadequate for helping reduce the spread of COVID-19."

More than 80 per cent of teachers surveyed also indicated they felt their mental health has worsened throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, teachers have frequently called for stronger COVID-19 measures. Even when B.C. extended its mask mandate to younger grades, the BCTF's president said those rules should have been implemented a lot sooner. 

The union has also called for more transparent data on school exposures, but the BCTF's survey revealed 71 per cent still feel they don't get adequate information about COVID-10 cases in their own workplace.

Additionally, the union's asked for a province-wide vaccine mandate for staff, rather than one that's implemented by individual districts. 

"Any vaccine mandate would need to be provincially implemented and done equitably. We can’t have unequal treatment of workers in the public education system," Teri Mooring, BCTF's president, said earlier this month.

The BCTF said its random-sample survey was completed among 5,996 active members between Sept. 22 and Oct. 11. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

- with files from CTV -