FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The B.C. Teachers’ Federation released the results of its 2021 Fall BCTF Health and Safety Membership Survey on Tuesday, highlighting some of the concerns raised by its members around mandatory vaccinations, mental health and ventilation in schools.

BCTF President Teri Mooring says 82 per cent of B.C. teachers support a province-wide vaccine mandate for all adults working in schools, and that a district-by-district patchwork approach does not make sense.

“From the beginning, B.C. teachers have been doing their part to keep their students and schools safe. We have known anecdotally that vaccine uptake among teachers was very high, and can now confirm that 94 per cent of teachers are fully vaccinated, with another one per cent partially vaccinated and intending to get their second dose,” said Mooring.

School District 60 Superintendent Stephen Petrucci says a decision on vaccine mandates for school staff will take time. He says the Province has given each school district a five-step roadmap for making that decision, and School District 60 is in step one: gather data and evidence in alignment with privacy rules.

“What they’re calling it is a roadmap for boards to use in terms of the process, leading to determining mandatory vaccination or not. But what’s worth looking at specifically is that step one talks about gathering information, promoting vaccine use among staff. And that’s basically where SD 60 is right now.”

Another key finding from the survey is that 27 per cent of teachers responded that the COVID-19 experience has made it more likely that they will leave teaching in the next two years. Also, 79 per cent of teachers reported their mental health has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the surveys and information show that overall mental health has declined both for adults and kids during COVID, which is to be expected, it would be so much worse if the kids were not able to be in school.”

Another finding from the survey is about ventilation systems. The survey shows 62 per cent of members do not feel they have received adequate information about the quality of ventilation in schools.

Petrucci mentioned in September that all schools in SD 60 had received ventilation upgrades. A document is available to the public online.

“The ventilation systems along with the specialized filters are operational and in place in every school,” said Petrucci in September.

Specialized MERV filters are changed out every three months, rather than every six months, providing another level of defense against possible virus transmission, says Petrucci.