VANCOUVER —
Thousands of students could be missing from classrooms this week as a new campaign gains momentum. Two mothers from Langley, B.C., are urging parents across the province to keep their children home on Tuesday in protest of the provincial government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They’re calling the movement “B.C. Student Sick Out” and as of Sunday evening the Facebook event had nearly 1,800 members. 

“As a parent, I just kept seeing things that weren’t really adding up to me and I couldn’t sit here anymore and not say anything,” said co-organizer Tara Kurtz. “I’m scared for our school staff. I really am. They’re putting their lives on the line to go in and educate our students. They did not sign up for this.”

The group’s demands include mandatory masks in schools, smaller class sizes, better ventilation and the option to start remote learning now. Co-organizer Miranda Tracy says they also want remote learning offered “across the province.”

“What we keep hearing is that teachers cannot voice their concerns, their hands are tied, and the parents are their only options. And I think if we can do enough, we can do this,” Tracy said.

She said the current safety precautions are not doing enough and she doesn’t understand why masks are not mandated.

“My youngest is telling me that he is scared to be going to school, he is scared that he is one of only two kids in class wearing a mask,” Tracy said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education said:

“We understand parents’ concerns. Like all of us, they want to ensure the safety of their children and their families.”

“Schools mirror what’s happening in our communities, and while that means we’ve seen cases in schools – we’re still seeing low transmissions rates inside our schools,” the statement continued. “We put in place nearly $290 million in provincial and federal funding to purchase cleaning supplies and PPE, as well as hired more staff where needed.”

The campaign comes as more schools are added to the exposure list this weekend: Strawberry Hill Elementary and William Watson Elementary, both in Surrey. Nearby Newton Elementary will be closed for two weeks after 16 people in the school community tested positive for COVID-19. 



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