Tuesday January 31, 2023 | COLWOOD, BC [Updated Feb 1, 2023]
EDUCATION NEWS | by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
All schools in BC are working on ventilation improvements, said Education and Child Care Minister Rachna Singh in an interview with Island Social Trends today.
She says that $178.4 million was issued to school across BC since 2020, of which $153.4 million was provincial funding and the rest federal. That was during the COVID pandemic when the federal government helped in various aspects of pandemic support funding across the country.
There are 1,600 schools across 60 school districts in BC. The funding was “distributed to all schools”, said Minister Singh, adding that the safety aspect of schools (in this case regarding ventilation) cannot be discretionary. She herself is a parent with children in school.
Singh added that all schools in BC have been inspected for ventilation.
During the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020 and into 2021, the importance of fresh air in general and ventilation in particular became better recognized across all sectors of society. In schools as well as workspaces and in long-term care facilities, the importance of managing ventilation received greater attention than it had ever before.
Back in March 2022 the Government of BC announced how they would be providing $240.5 million in 2022-23 for school maintenance projects, which includes $48.4 million to upgrade HVAC systems at 90 schools throughout the province.
Since the start of the pandemic, the ministry has provided $163.1 million in provincial and federal funding for HVAC upgrades, providing students with healthier places to learn.
While there have never been a full-on health officer declaration of the COVID-19 virus being an airborne virus, the use of masks in crowded and/or shared indoor spaces has been recommended by health officials, sometimes with more insistence than at other times. Even in this 2022-2023 fall-winter respiratory season, there has been the recommendation from the Provincial Health Officer (back in November) to use masks appropriately in indoor spaces.
In the early part of the pandemic limiting the number of students in common areas was one way to reduce the impacts of sharing air that may have (or likely would have) contained the COVID-19 virus.
Last week, Education and Child Care Minister Rachna Singh was joined by local MLA Mitzi Dean (who is Minister of Children and Family Development) and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, and other MLAs for a tour of the Royal Bay Secondary School in Colwood.
Minister Singh was appointed as Education and Child Care Minister during Premier David Eby’s Cabinet announcement on December 7, 2022. She says she will be getting around to many schools around the province, to see the facilities, meet with boards and staff, and engage with parents.
Education & Child Care Minister toured Royal Bay Secondary (Jan 27, 2023)
Premier Eby’s announces his new Cabinet (Dec 7, 2022)
Mitzi Dean: investments in school playgrounds & ventilation (Sept 15, 2021)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke is a long-time journalist, delivering news through a socioeconomic lens through Island Social Trends.
Based on the west shore of south Vancouver Island, IslandSocialTrends.ca covers news of the Greater Victoria area, south Vancouver Island, with insights on BC and national issues.
Mary Brooke has consistently covered SD62 at the board and committee level since 2014. Ms Brooke was a school trustee candidate in SD62 Belmont Zone in October 2022.
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends emerged in mid-2020 from a preceding series of publications edited by Mary P Brooke and published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc. The series: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). | ARCHIVES: SD62 West Shore | EDUCATION