THE B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) conducted a random sample survey of members from September 22 to October 11 to construct a general picture of members’ perceptions of health and safety during the fourth wave of the pandemic as well as key information about vaccination rates.
You can read the preliminary report of the 2021 Fall BCTF Health and Safety Membership Survey online.
BCTF President Teri Mooring, commenting on vaccination rates and vaccine mandates, said: “From the beginning, BC teachers have been doing their part to keep their students and schools safe. We have known anecdotally that vaccine uptake among teachers was extremely high, and can now confirm that 94% of teachers are fully vaccinated, with another 1% partially vaccinated and intending to get their second dose. We’ve also confirmed that 82% of BC teachers support a province-wide vaccine mandate for all adults working in our schools. Any vaccine mandate in K to 12 must be province-wide, a district by district patchwork approach does not make sense.”
Regarding mental health, and health and safety, she said: “Once again, we’re seeing clear ties between health and safety and teacher mental health, with 79% saying their mental health has worsened over the course of the pandemic. These responses are particularly significant as this is the third survey that has shown the same result over two school years. Our detailed analysis that is underway will confirm the extent of these correlations, but can report at this time that only 46% of teachers feel safe at work and 71% don’t feel they’re getting enough information about COVID-19 cases and exposures in their schools and districts. We have consistently heard that this lack of transparency has been a significant source of anxiety and stress for parents and teachers alike.”
On ventilation, Mooring said: “Transparency around that quality of ventilation in BC schools remains a concern for many teachers, with 62% reporting that they have not received adequate information about ventilation in their school. We’ve been calling on the Ministry to prioritize public reporting of this data since last school year, yet we’re only recently beginning to see a handful of localized ventilation reports start to trickle out.”
Four key themes from the results:
- There are ongoing gaps in measures to keep everyone safe in BC schools. The survey found roughly equal amounts of members who feel safe and unsafe.
- The pandemic has negatively affected teachers’ well-being and mental health.
- The experience of teaching during a pandemic is exacerbating already acute recruitment and retention challenges.
- BC teachers are doing their part to keep everyone safe with very high vaccination rates.
Key findings about health and safety
46% of BCTF members report that they feel safe at work. Nearly the same amount (42%) report not feeling safe at work.
53% of teachers feel that the frequency of cleaning/sanitation in schools is inadequate for helping reduce the spread of COVID-19.
62% of members do not feel that they have received adequate information about the quality of ventilation in schools.
71% of teachers feel that they have not received adequate information about COVID-19 exposures and the number of cases in their school and district.
Key findings about COVID-19 vaccination rates for teachers
Vaccination rates are very high among BC public school teachers – 94% of teachers are fully vaccinated.
Only 2% of BCTF members reported that they are not vaccinated. A further 2% did not answer the question and 1% said they are partially vaccinated and intend to get their second dose.
The rate of vaccination for teachers is higher than the general population in every region of the province, including the North and Interior, where teachers are significantly more likely to be vaccinated than the general population.
The survey also found that a potential COVID-19 vaccine mandate in public schools is broadly supported by a significant majority of teachers in BC. Overall, 82% of teachers agreed that all adults working in BC schools should be vaccinated.
Key findings about the pandemic’s impact on teachers
27% of BC teachers report that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more likely that they will leave teaching within the next two years.
79% of teachers report that their mental health has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BCTF will publish a more detailed final report of the survey in the coming days. It said it will use the data in its ongoing advocacy and lobbying with the government, health authorities, Public Health Officer, and school districts.