Rating the School Opening Plans in Canada's Four Largest Provinces

For purposes of this piece we restricted ourselves to Canada’s four largest provinces, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, that together represent 85% of the Canadian population and, by extrapolation roughly 85% of Canada’s students. Using the advice of health officials, none of the provinces are doing an adequate job of protecting the K12 students but there is still a range between inadequate and seriously dangerous. 

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When public polling shows overwhelming support for maximum masking, vaccine mandates for all levels of education, the four provincial governments, are full of hesitations and half measures. Quebec, Alberta and Ontario all have conservative governments. They may be reluctant because, anti vaxers and anti maskers skew heavily to the conservative side and divide their electoral coalition, no such political excuse exists for BCs NDP government. 

 

An Angus Reid poll, quoted in the Vancouver Sun, 74% of parents of school age children aged 12-17 said vaccinations should be mandatory for all teachers and school staff. For parents of children aged 5-11 it was even higher at 81%. This was highest in BC. Sixty five % of parents of 12-17 wanted mandatory vaccinations for students returning to school. Only 10% of parents reject both compulsory masks and vaccinations for students and staff, yet this 10% are given outweighed deference. 

 

Dr Irwin Redlener, Professor of Health Policy, Professor of Pediatrics Columbia University Medical Center, says “every single adult in schools must be vaccinated” (MSNBC)

 

Air Filtration is also a critical factor but was not included in the chart because provinces only care to list their expenditure on air filters. BC for example, says they have spent $77.5 million on air filters, leaving parents and staff to guess, is that enough or is it woefully inadequate. 

 

The children are heading back to school as you read this article. What must be done immediately  to fill the obvious gaps in the chart above? Working west to east, BC must: extend the mask mandate to all primary grades 1-3, make further distancing regulations, reduce class size wherever possible, and demand a vax passport from every person age 12+ who enters the building. The very popular Chief MOH Dr Bonnie Henry, or DBH as she is now known, still has a blind spot when it comes to masking children. 

 

Alberta, the worst bad actor in Canada, must do everything in the BC list, Mask all, vax all, distance to the max, 

 

Ontario must move towards the TDSB efforts to upgrade all of the provincial rules, vaccinate all staff as a condition of employment, and all students 12+ as a condition of F2F schooling. 

 

Quebec must mask every school 1-12, not just the 9 districts under the present mandate. Quebec must also upgrade to all levels mentioned above. 

 

In addition, all four, in fact all education jurisdictions in Canada, must mandate vaccines to all who enter schools 12+. Those who refuse or have medical exemptions must go on remote or be fired. On top of all of this, rapid testing, contact tracing, no hybrid models, a shift to board supplied N95 respirators are really required. The surgical masks supplied by boards are not adequate and show a callous disregard for staff by senior management and the province. 

It is not too late for provinces to upgrade their standards and for boards like TDSB to improve on these. 

 

According to Teresa Tam, Chief PHO of Canada, we are headed to 15 000 cases of Covid 19 per day by mid to late fall, if we don’t vaccinate at much higher rates. Under this stress it is highly unlikely that we can maintain in-school, F2F education, and we will be forced back to remote, a God awful experience this past 2020/2021 school year and a very poor substitute for in-school education. 

 

As it stands, the provincial plans that represent 85% of Canada’s students are woefully inadequate for the task at hand. Educational disaster looms.