FILE – Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students to return to the classroom in September. Trest is one of two fathers who filed a court application to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections aren’t in place. (Contributed photo)

FILE – Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students to return to the classroom in September. Trest is one of two fathers who filed a court application to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections aren’t in place. (Contributed photo)

B.C. Supreme Court tosses parents’ challenge of province’s school reopening plans

Court challenge had requested mandatory masks and more physical distancing

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has dismissed an application by two parents who wanted the province to implement tougher COVID-19 safety measures before schools reopened last month.

Justice Jasvinder Basran says in an oral decision posted online on Wednesday he is satisfied that the advice of public health officials in B.C. is based on the best available scientific knowledge.

He says evidence shows the officials considered the use of masks in schools, while the creation of learning groups of up to 60 or 120 students was also based on “sound scientific advice” balanced with the need to provide children with an education.

The application filed in late August on behalf of Bernard Trest of White Rock and Gary Shuster of Vancouver, both fathers of school-age kids, named the ministers of health and education as respondents.

They sought an injunction restraining the ministries from moving into the current phase of the province’s school restart plan without a mandatory mask policy in classrooms and an order compelling physical distancing among students in the same learning group in classroom settings.

Basran ruled the public interest is best served by continuing to rely on COVID-19 guidance issued by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and the health minister.

“The fact that some of this advice is not universally accepted is insufficient to conclude that the government has clearly chosen the wrong approach in terms of the public interest.”

He also said the application from Trest and Shuster did not clearly identify any statutory authority that would permit the two ministries to make the orders the parents’ were seeking. The power to make orders under the Public Health Act is granted only to health officers, medical health officers and the provincial health officer, he said.

Basran added that Trest and Shuster expressed preferences for sending their children to school in person but felt it wasn’t safe. But he said they did not cite any evidence on remote options available to their children and the province has reasonably accommodated parents who have chosen homeschooling or remote learning options.

Basran ordered each party to pay for their own costs, saying he was satisfied the petitioners had a good-faith belief that their application was in the public interest.

READ MORE: Not enough science to back return-to-school plan, says White Rock dad

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusEducationSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grand Forks’ Ian Mitchell, left, and Everett Baker are the only two candidates in the city’s upcoming byelection, according to CEO Patti Ferguson. Photo submitted
Two-way race shaping up in Grand Forks byelection

The nomination cut-off was Friday afternoon, Oct. 30

Ian Mitchell on Thurs., Oct. 29 filed his nomination for Grand Forks byelection. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Mitchell joins Grand Forks’ byelection race

The candidate highlighted the mutual respect between himself and opponent, Everett Baker

A view of proposed seniors housing on Vernon St. Illustration: City of Nelson/ Vendure Retirement Communities
Nelson seniors housing project to start construction in the spring

Private development on Vernon Street will provide assisted living services as well as housing

City staff will report residents’ feedback to council before the shelter’s permit is decided at a special meeting Tues., Nov. 3. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks’ city council seeking feedback on proposed winter shelter

Boundary Family Services hopes to have the proposed facility running starting Dec. 1

Brandon Kootnekoff stands at the “Zombie Bay” he lit up at his home near Sion Cemetery Wed., Oct. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks haunt enthusiast re-vamps Halloween display for pandemic

Brandon Kootnekoff said he wanted neighbours ‘to have something to look forward to this year’

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

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

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Kimberley Dynamiters' next two exhibition games have been postponed due to an individual testing positive for COVID-19. Paul Rodgers file.
Member of Kimberley Dynamiters tests positive for COVID-19

Exhibition games in Fernie, Creston postponed

Most Read