Parents feeling mixed emotions about sending their children back to the classroom on Tuesday

Students are heading back to school on Tuesday, and when you talk to parents, you’ll get a mixed response.

“Definitely nervous,” said Alex Hrabowsky, a parent of child entering Kindergarten.

“I’ve got no concerns sending my kids to school,” said Scott Johnson, a parent of four. “I’m happy to send them.”

“I’m super nervous about it,” said Karyn Theeparajah, whose oldest child will be going into Grade 1.

According to a new poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, the majority of parents across Canada are comfortable sending their kids back to the classroom.

Seventy-seven per cent of respondents who have children ages 12 to 17 and 64 per cent of parents with a child ages five to 11 say they are feeling comfortable.

A majority of both groups of parents do want to see vaccine mandates for students who are eligible to be vaccinated, as well as teachers and staff, according to the poll.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) says it is strongly encouraging all teachers to get vaccinated throughout the province.

“We certainly wouldn’t oppose a vaccine mandate if one was imposed by the employer or government or the provincial health office,” said Terri Mooring, president of the teachers’ union.

Currently, the province says it is not looking to mandate vaccines in schools. That too is drawing a mixed response from parents.

“If you have to show a vaccine passport in order to go into a restaurant or a movie theatre, I agree 100 per cent that vaccines should be mandatory in school,” said Theeparajah.

“Nope, absolutely not,” said Johnson. “I think that’s a personal choice, that’s their personal health-care decision.”

Masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12. The BCTF would like that to be expanded to all grades.

With vaccination rates being low among people ages 12 to 17, the teachers’ federation is continuing to call for mobile vaccine clinics in schools.

“We’re really concerned about low vaccination rates there,” said Mooring. “They are coming up in some parts of the province and not others.”

“They’re still not on par with the general population.”