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Back to school: celebrate what is working and change what is not working

It’s time to consider the systems we have in place and celebrate what is working, and change what is not
Susan Yao
Susan Yao is the president of the Delta Teachers Association.

Happy Labour Day!

Welcome to the weekend that marks the end of summer “vacay”— if you were lucky enough to have any, and back to classes for students and educators.

Here we go with those butterfly feelings again — anxiety mixed with excitement.

I saw an ad for back-to-school the other day - cheerful parents sporting their masks while stocking up on new school supplies. Yes, the kids are going back to routines and educators will assume the task of keeping them busy learning and being social and safe. Yes, we are still in pandemic times and behaviours and choices have to take into account safety protocols - wearing masks, sanitizing, keeping interactions more at a distance, keeping to smaller groupings, although not necessarily so for schools with their rather large groups. 

It’s time to consider the systems we have in place and celebrate what is working, and change what is not. Incremental changes can help us build and re-think our communities and how we do things.

We celebrate the “weekend” as a concept also because years ago workers fought to have some days in the week to rest and rejuvenate. 

Labour Day differs from May’s Day of Mourning. Those acquainted with the Labour movement know the Day of Mourning as time to recognize and remember workers injured or killed on the job. Teachers and their colleagues need to work in safety and with the security that every available measure is taken so they too can go home to their loved ones. 

What can we do? Get vaccinated and encourage others to do so. Keep wearing masks and encourage others to do so, including children in Kindergarten to Grade 3.

While this is not required by Provincial Health, it is encouraged, but teachers in K to 3 want to be as safe as their colleagues in grades 4-12.

On a larger scale, the time of political action, the upcoming federal election, is here to rally the cry for greater access to vaccines for the wider world, among other urgent changes. Why is the Canadian government not pressuring for the lifting of vaccine patents when all of humanity is in danger? Plans for “booster” vaccines come when a huge swath of the planet still has not received a first or second dose. With the rise of the Delta variant, the importance of vaccinations is clear. Without these, the risk of additional variants is greater and could come “home” to us.  Ask candidates what they support, the profits of big pharmaceutical companies or the well-being of people?