FILE – A physical distancing sign is seen during a media tour of Hastings Elementary school in Vancouver on September 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

FILE – A physical distancing sign is seen during a media tour of Hastings Elementary school in Vancouver on September 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

34% of teachers say they’d look to an early career exit over COVID response: BCTF survey

Pandemic has increased workload for the majority of teachers

A survey carried out by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has found that more than half of their members do not feel safe in schools.

The survey, released on Wednesday, came just one day before the province was scheduled to make an announcement regarding schools.

Of the 3,750 teachers who took part in the survey, 57.8 per cent said they do not feel safe woking in person, while 61 per cent report that health and safety measures in schools are “not adequate.”

Masks, a point of contention between teachers and health officials since schools reopened in September, were popular among BCTF members. The survey found that 86.9 per cent of teachers believe all adults in school should have to wear a face covering, while 79.9 per cent believe students should have to wear a face covering all or most of the time.

Support for mask wearing was highest in the Fraser Health region, an area hit hard by school outbreaks and closures as a result.

Teachers also called for smaller class sizes to improve physical distancing in schools, as 96.4 per cent of in-person teachers said they’re often in close physical proximity to other people. The survey found only 18.5 per cent of teachers feel that class sizes are small enough to allow physical distancing.

For situations where physical distancing is not possible, 65 per cent of teachers said they wanted plexiglass barriers, similar to what has been set up in grocery stores.

Virus fears were not the only ones reported in the union’s survey. It found that 72.8 per cent of teachers had their workload increased due to the pandemic, and that 34 per cent said COVID-19 made it more likely that they will leave teaching in the next two years. Female teachers were more likely than male teachers to report both a high workload and to think they would leave teaching in the next two years.

More to come.


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