A.J. Elliott Elementary School in Sointula. (SD85.bc.ca photo)

A.J. Elliott Elementary School in Sointula. (SD85.bc.ca photo)

Students back in B.C. classroom after mask exemption dispute resolved

New teacher in place in Sointula, maskless teacher takes temporary position elsewhere with district

Concerns about a maskless teacher that led to students being pulled from the classroom off northern Vancouver Island have been addressed by a staffing shuffle.

A.J. Elliott Elementary School students in Sointula are going back to the classroom today after upset parents had pulled them from their first week of learning due to a teacher’s mask exemption.

RELATED: Parents nearly empty Sointula elementary school over teacher’s mask exemption

In an email to the parents that was obtained by the Gazette, the school’s principal Melody Watson confirmed that as of Sept. 13, the teacher in question has “accepted an alternative temporary position within the district” and that her position at A.J. Elliott Elementary School will be filled with “a TTOC (Teacher Teaching On Call) until a temporary replacement is found.”

Parents Advisory Council president Brittany Swanson, a mother of three children who attend A.J. Elliott Elementary School, issued a statement on behalf of the group of parents. It said they are pleased that a “solution has been found that provides us a learning environment that we are comfortable with while also respecting a teacher’s medical needs.

“This is a great outcome and our kids are excited to be returning to school on Monday.”

She added the parents are grateful for the work done by all the staff at A.J. Elliott and the school board to find a quick and effective solution.

“These are never easy conversations but it is worth it when everyone works together to find a good workable solution.”

After 28 out of 34 students missed the first day of school last week over the issue, the Ministry of Education sent in a rapid response team to review local safety plans, ensure safeguards were in place to support a healthy learning environment and help communicate with the parents.


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