Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students to return to the classroom in September. (Contributed photo)

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students to return to the classroom in September. (Contributed photo)

Not enough science to back return-to-school plan, says White Rock dad

Bernard Trest and his son have launched a Facebook page to rally parents with similar concerns

B.C.’s plan to return students to class in September has a White Rock father and son considering protests and a class-action lawsuit.

Friday (July 31), Bernard and Max Trest launched a Facebook page dedicated to rallying others who share their concerns around the size of cohorts planned, the lack of a mandatory mask requirement and no option for hybrid/virtual learning.

“Help stop the insanity in BC before our kids become infected and possibly die,” an introduction on the page states.

“Our voices here in BC, which are the majority of the voices, need to be heard as the government is not properly protecting our children.”

Ministry of Education officials on July 29 announced B.C.’s plan for a return to school in September, noting much of the plan will be up to individual school districts.

READ MORE: B.C. to roll out ‘learning groups’ as part of COVID-19 back-to-school plan

Minister of Education Rob Fleming said the province is moving to Stage 2 of the B.C. Education Restart Plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year on Sept. 8.

Students will be organized into “learning groups” or “cohorts” – up to 60 for elementary school and 120 for high school –to reduce the number of people each student or staff member will come into contact with, reduce the risk of transmission and help with contact tracing for health authorities.

Surrey Schools superintendent Jordan Tinney said in a July 30 message that the cohorts will stay together for learning and other activities. Students will still be in classes, “but these classes can learn and interact together,” he said.

“It’s very similar to expanding your contacts in the community, but it limits the close contacts to 60 or 120 in our schools.”

Bernard Trest said it makes no sense that B.C’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has capped limits for social gatherings at 50, but is allowing student cohorts of 120.

“She’s sending very mixed feelings to the public,” Trest said.

Trest said B.C. should be following Ontario’s lead, citing a plan that includes mandatory masks, smaller cohorts and an option to continue learning at home in a virtual environment.

With all that is still unknown about COVID-19, he added – as well as a “great deal” of data showing it may cause lifelong health complications – the risk to students is too great to proceed as currently planned.

“You’re dealing with possibly killing children,” he said, describing the message that things are OK as a “Chernobyl moment” – a reference to word he said officials gave following the 1986 disaster, that “there’s nothing wrong, everything’s going to be OK.”

“There’s not enough data, there’s not enough science to let us know that,” Trest said.

“Saying it’s OK does not make it OK.”

Max, who is 10 years old, has asthma and “understands the science” – he was described as a “child prodigy” in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics July 2020 newsletter – was blunt when asked to share his opinion of the current plan for school.

“It sounds like something that’s really stupid,” he said. “I feel that the cohorts need to be really limited.”

Surrey teacher Lizanne Foster shared similar concerns this week on social media. She said a return to school immediately after the Labour Day weekend – a time when there is potentially a “massive mixing of people” – is a bad idea. It doesn’t mesh with health officials’ previous pre-long-weekend messages around waiting two weeks to see how many fell ill, she said.

“We are in school during that incubation period… That’s a problem,” she said.

School infrastructure, she added, is a bigger problem.

READ MORE: Surrey teacher hopes Ministry of Education will change return-to-school plan

Trest – noting he’s seen “thousands” of comments online from parents who share similar concerns – said protest ideas he has in mind include a “mass walkout” in which parents who don’t feel it is safe yet for their kids to go back to class would simply not show up in September.

He encouraged anyone interested to visit the Facebook page for more information.

– with files from Lauren Collins & Ashley Wadhwani



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusstudentsSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

So far, he’s cut five callers off during Monday’s virtual meeting

The entrance at Fleetwood Villa in Surrey. (Photo: dignified.ca)
Fleetwood Villa resident tests positive for COVID-19, leading to ‘outbreak’ at facility

Fraser Health says it’s ‘critically important’ for people in the region to use COVID-19 assessment tool

A Surrey protest now in week 12 against a local resident has frayed the nerves of neighbours fed-up with the group’s presence. (Submitted photo)
Surrey neighbourhood fed-up with strange protest

Surrey Mounties say they’re monitoring the situation

Bhupinder Hundal. (submitted photo)
Surrey’s Bhupinder Hundal hired as news director of B.C. broadcaster

Grad of Princess Margaret Secondary now managing Global station

Ed Holden owns and operates The Christmas Store at Potters, located on 48th Avenue in Surrey. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
‘B.C. Buy Local Week’ kicks off with urgent plea to holiday shoppers

‘Local businesses are just hanging on,’ says organizer of the week-long campaign

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
Judge hears Langley development case that could end in mayor, councillors booted out of council

The conflict of interest case was launched by local voters a year ago

Most Read