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

It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Sterling Cunningham file photo)
White Rock officials question if tourism relief will come soon enough

For business, budget ‘feels more like a placeholder,’ says chamber head

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
South Surrey, White Rock MLAs call Tuesday’s provincial budget ‘disappointing’

MLAs Stephanie Cadieux and Trevor Halford say residents are getting less for more

Memorial for Travis Selje on 64th Avenue in Cloverdale, west of 176th Street. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Epilepsy-defence driver found not guilty in crash that killed Surrey teen Travis Selje

Accused testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision

(File photo)
Three young girls followed while walking home from school, Surrey police say

RCMP say suspect took off after girls went into nearby store for help

Black smoke rises above Highway 17 in Surrey on Thursday. (Fraser Valley Road Report Facebook)
Fire sends thick black smoke above Surrey industrial area

Firefighters say blaze burning just off of Tannery Road and Highway 17 in Surrey

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

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

Firefighters carry equipment from the scene of Monday’s Willoughby fire. The April 19, 2021 blaze turned the Alexander Square development at the corner of 208th Street and 80th Avenue to rubble. (Rob Wilton/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley Fire: The aftermath of the inferno

The scene remains active as investigators work to determine a cause

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read