Letters: B.C.'s back-to-school plan 'disturbing'

Open letter to the parents of B.C. students,

As a long-time educator, I find the lack of an online option in B.C.’s Back To School Plan extremely disturbing. 

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Distance Learning, which is being advocated as an alternative by the government, is hardly equipped to deal with the amount of parents requesting online learning options for their children. Moreover, it takes the child out of their school community. Schools lose funding, children may lose their place in specialized programs, and students lose their connection to their school.

When I left in June, I expected to see, upon my return, a robust online platform consistent across districts, instead of one cobbled together by individual teachers on the fly. I assumed an online platform would be used in conjunction with in-person classes where students would alternate days, thus reducing class sizes to a maximum of 15. 

Instead, all of these ideas were jettisoned in favour of a full return, with protocols less strict than the local Costco and Walmart. Masks in class? No. Temperature checks? No. Physical barriers? No. Small class sizes? No. Online learning from school? No. 

Being a parent of two young children myself, I understand that online learning inconveniences parents. It is not much fun for teachers either. As a music teacher, there is nothing I enjoy more than hearing my students make music together.

However, online learning is a vital component that should not have been discarded. The current Back To School Plan completely fails special needs students with conditions such as autism, immune-compromised students, those students being raised by grandparents and anyone with elders at home.

Unfortunately, whenever the teachers’ union takes up a cause, it invariably becomes politicized. My message to parents, as a teacher of more than 20 years, is simple: Don’t let the BCTF fight your battles for you. No one cares about your child more than you do. B.C. children deserve a better plan. Speak now. Act now!  

Michael Mikulin


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