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Teachers in Surrey, B.C., stage demonstration after COVID-19 variants detected in schools

Click to play video 'Surrey teachers rally for schools affected by exposures' Surrey teachers rally for schools affected by exposures
Surrey teachers are rallying to support schools affected by COVID-19 variant exposures. The show of solidarity comes from 300 staff and students from seven schools in Fraser Health who continue to self-isolate after cases of the UK variant were confirmed. Andrea MacPherson reports.

Teachers at a school in Surrey planned a demonstration Tuesday morning in response to COVID-19 variant exposures, calling for more safety measures in schools.

Teachers at Woodward Hill Elementary took part in a walk-in before school started, all wearing red and wearing masks to show solidarity for each other as the pandemic continues.

Woodward Hill is just one of seven schools in Surrey and Delta with confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K.

Several classes are in isolation but the school remains open.

According to a note to the school community, “two classes and over 20 individuals at École Woodward Hill have been told to stay home and get tested.” They will be allowed to return to school after receiving a negative test, according to the note.

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Teachers around the province are being asked to wear red Tuesday to show their support.

Click to play video 'BCTF calls for more local power to respond to pandemic' BCTF calls for more local power to respond to pandemic
BCTF calls for more local power to respond to pandemic

Read more: COVID-19 variant detected at multiple Metro Vancouver schools

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The provincial government says its safety plan for schools remains strong but the BC Teachers’ Federation does not agree.

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Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said Monday there is no evidence that variants have spread within schools but the BCTF wants the districts to have more power to change the rules.

That means certain districts could make masks mandatory for elementary students or enhance physical distancing.

Read more: B.C. officials say there is no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 variants in schools

“School districts, in these really dramatic situations, really ought to have the ability to, on a district-wide basis or school-by-school basis, increase the safety measures that are in place,” BCTF president Teri Mooring said Monday. “There is no ability for a district to do that.”

Click to play video 'Will the BCTF be given ‘greater powers’ in districts where COVID-19 is transmitted?' Will the BCTF be given ‘greater powers’ in districts where COVID-19 is transmitted?
Will the BCTF be given ‘greater powers’ in districts where COVID-19 is transmitted?