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

Jordan Jay Ward, 20, is wanted Canada-wide for manslaughter. (Calgary police photo)
UPDATE: ‘Suspicious’ man seen in Parksville woods not manslaughter suspect

Hikers say he resembled Jordan Jay Ward, wanted Canada-wide

From left: BC NDP candidate Adam Walker; BC Liberal Party candidate Michelle Stilwell. (Submitted/file)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidates wait for mail-in ballot count

NDP’s Adam Walker has lead over B.C. Liberal Party’s Michelle Stilwell

An illustration was given to the Parksville’s Church of the Ascension by a person, in appreciation for allowing use of its shower facility. (Mike Favero/Submitted photo)
Parksville church makes showers available to the homeless

Pastor receives special illustration from one appreciative person

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical health officer, immunizes Victoria Schmid, Island Health’s vice-president of pandemic planning. (Submitted photo)
Island Health advising people to get a flu shot

People looking to get vaccinated should book an appointment, says Island Health

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

Most Read