Re: Impact of school closures on learning, and child and family well-being

Thank you for this article [BCMJ 2020;62:338]. It is most interesting and highlights the importance of in-person education for our children. I raise only one point—are we forgetting about our teachers? Are they being put in a precarious position without the appropriate protections, consideration, autonomy, and appreciation? This remains my bias. The article suggests low risk on the assumption that preventive measures can be taken. Dr Bonnie Henry has suggested in a statement that “teachers know best [how to stay safe] in their classroom.” My assertion, though purely anecdotal, is that we are asking too much of our teachers without providing sufficient checks and balances to ensure that they remain safe. Who will be their voice when they feel unsafe? How can they efficiently and appropriately enact policy change to protect themselves and their families? Administrators vary with respect to ability to address necessary concerns. Social distancing, it would seem, is next to impossible to achieve. Teachers seem effectively neutered when it comes to implementing mask policies, and I suspect are confused as to why the policy should vary from a child in their classroom to the same child in a grocery store. I have often found myself counseling parents who are struggling personally that to most effectively care for their child (our patient), they too must take care of themselves. Should we not, as a community, be advocating the same for our teachers? If they feel afraid, unsupported, burned out, or unsafe, how can we expect them to take on the enormous responsibility of supporting, educating, and nurturing our children? Thank you.
—James Harris, MD, FRCPC

This letter was submitted in response to “Impact of school closures on learning, and child and family well-being.”

James Harris, MD, FRCPC. Re: Impact of school closures on learning, and child and family well-being. BCMJ, Vol. 63, No. 1, January, February, 2021, Page(s) 7 - Letters.

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