A student works in a science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary on Friday, March 12, 2021. The Safe School Coalition is holding a rally in Surrey Aug. 28 to push for a mask mandate, among other things, for the 2021-22 school year. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

Rally for COVID-safe schools planned in Surrey

Second event organized by Safe School Coalition before school year starts

The Safe School Coalition is bringing a rally to Surrey next weekend to advocate for COVID-19 safe measures before the school year starts.

The group has planned a rally at Holland Park for Saturday, Aug. 28 from noon to 1:30 p.m. The coalition is a group of teachers and parents and guardians calling for safer COVID-19 measures going into the new school year.

This is the second such event this summer, with the first on Aug. 14 in Vancouver.

READ ALSO: ‘Almost no protection’: Surrey teachers concerned about returning to school in B.C., Aug. 10, 2021

READ ALSO: Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school, June 17, 2021

Surrey, and its schools, were some of the hardest-hit through the second and third waves of the pandemic.

The Surrey school district tweeted out school exposure notices throughout the 2020-21 school year, and based on those tweets, there were more than 1,500 exposures at the district.

Schools – COVID exposures

Cases at the Surrey school disrict dropped “dramatically” as vaccination rates in the community went up toward the end of the school year.

But the coalition is still pushing for a mask mandate as students aged 12 and under are not yet eligible for a vaccine.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 cases at Surrey school district drop ‘dramatically’, June 15, 2021

READ ALSO: No cohorts as B.C. schools expected to return to ‘near normal’ this fall, June 17, 2021

READ ALSO: B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments, June 19, 2021

In June, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced schools are expected to return to “near normal” conditions this September, adding there were no plans for cohorts or learning groups.

Whiteside announced an additional $25.6 million in new, one-time school funding for continued enhanced cleaning measures, rapid response teams, mental health help and to help Indigenous students.

Guidance on masking will be announced at a later date, Whiteside noted.

Meantime, on Friday (Aug. 20), Whiteside tweet that updated health-and-safety guidelines “will be out early next week to support a safe return to school.”

“It’s critical that we get students back safely in class – connected with their teachers, friends, and social supports. That is what we’re all working towards.”

– With files from Katya Slepian

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