Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)

‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

A mass “sick out” of public school students set for Tuesday, Dec. 1 is being organized by a group of Langley-area moms concerned about masking and class sizes.

“We are hoping as many [parents] as possible keep their children home that day,” said Miranda Tracy, a Langley woman and one of the main organizers of the Sick Out BC event.

The parents are hoping to put pressure on the provincial government to make changes in schools as COVID numbers have hit new highs and exposure incidents in school districts become daily occurrences.

The protest was suggested by Tracy as part of an online discussion she and other parents were having as they checked COVID-19 numbers related to schools.

Having suggested the idea of a “sick out,” the support prompted her to organize.

The protest is being organized through a BC Student Sick Out Facebook page, which already has more than 1,400 members. The bulk of those who have said they will participate are in Langley and Surrey.

In the last few weeks, there has been a great deal of controversy around rules for students in B.C. schools.

As of last week, masks are now required in every business and space open to the public, but they are still not required in schools.

The BC Teachers Federation has asked parents to help create a “culture of mask wearing” to increase protection in classrooms, and has been calling for smaller class sizes and more at-home learning options.

READ MORE: BCTF asks parents to ‘create a culture of mask wearing’ as schools excluded from new rules

Tracy said she knows that many parents won’t be able to keep their kids at home, as they have to work and have few other childcare options in a pandemic.

But she is hoping to force at least some schools to hit the mark of 10 per cent absences of students in one day. That causes an automatic reporting to local school districts.

She’s also hoping the sick out can convince the province and districts not to end their partial distance learning options, which are set to expire over the winter.

“I did send my kids back in September,” Tracy said. “However, I feel very differently about that now.”

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