The announcement of “COVID-19 rapid response teams” for B.C. schools is being met with enthusiasm from the school district, and more cautiously by local teachers.
On Tuesday, the province announced that six regional teams were in place to “support K-12 schools and school districts with safety plans and exposure assessments,” according to the Ministry of Education.
“As the pandemic evolves, these teams will help us respond quickly and adapt, where necessary, to ensure best practices are being consistently applied throughout the education sector,” said Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside.
The teams are to work with schools and districts to review significant exposure events and make recommendations to enhance school safety plans.
They can can also review school or district COVID-19 safety plans, and support the implementation of the plans, helping communicate to students, staff, and families.
Finally, the teams can conduct school safety assessments.
The province is sending $900,000 in federally-provided funding to support the teams.
In Fraser Health, which includes Langley, Surrey will act as a the “lead school district” for the rapid response teams.
“It is our understanding, our district will be able to call upon and request the COVID Rapid Response Team based out of Surrey if needed,” said Langley superintendent of schools Gord Stewart.
READ MORE: COVID cases reported in two Langley schools
He said the district was pleased with the announcement.
“Having this team set up and ready to go will enhance the health and safety measures already in place in our district and bring confidence to students, staff, and families.”
Tanya Kerr, president of the Langley Teachers Association, said hopefully the teams would help, but was not sure if they would be effective.
She said the teachers of B.C. have been raising issues of COVID safety for some time.
“We don’t feel like contact tracing is actually taking place in schools like it should be,” she said.
She said it seemed like exposures and transmission in schools was being downplayed to make it seem that schools are safer than they are.
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