The President of the BC Teachers Federation is calling on the province to provide sector-wide training for using a trauma-informed lens when it comes to mental health supports.

Teri Mooring stated some families were disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.

She told Vista Radio teachers saw a decline in their mental health at twice the rate of an average BC resident during the pandemic.

“You know, there has no doubt been a toll taken on the entire system in large part because a lot of the preventative health and safety measures that we were calling for since last September were not put in place until very late in the day.”

“In addition, we cannot disregard the discovery in Kamloops of the 215 unmarked graves is having on Aboriginal families, communities, and colleagues in BC.”

Mooring added while she is happy the vaccination rate is over 50% for those aged 12-17, further guidance on some of the health and safety measures may be needed as we head deeper into August.

“We need to see the regional breakdown because what might happen in the fall is that if we see communities with relatively high transmission rates and low vaccination rates then we will need to take a regional approach with some of the safety measures.”

Mooring was equally appreciative of the fact a further determination on masks will be made at around the same time frame.

“Some students and staff will continue to wear masks and that needs to be respected and we have of course have students and staff with underlying conditions making the vaccines less effective.”

On Thursday, the provincial government provided $25.6 million in new one-time, pandemic-specific funding to support cleaning and disinfecting measures as well as improved ventilation and restock supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE).

Mooring stated while the investment is a good start, more money will likely be needed as schools reopen their doors.

“It’s not a lot of money so I anticipate more will be needed but it’s good to have the announcement where funding is set aside for that because we are hearing from a lot of districts they are running deficits right now.”

Here is a further breakdown of the new one-time funding:

    • $14.4 million for health and safety, cleaning and supplies
    • $5 million to support First Nations students and build capacity within First Nations Education Steering Committee and Métis Nation BC
    • $5 million for mental health services
    • $1.2 million for independent schools