Fears over the safety of their children have prompted more than 12,000 people to sign an online petition calling for in-class learning at schools to be optional in September.

The Change.org petition calls on Health Minister Adrian Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Education Minister Rob Fleming, and Premier John Horgan to give parents the option of keeping their children at home to learn.

On Wednesday of last week, Fleming and Dr. Henry outlined the provincial plan to have K-12 students return to class in September.

The province says enhanced safety measures and additional resources will enable most students in grades K-12 to return to school on September 8, with full-time in-class learning as the province moves to Stage 2 of B.C.’s Education Restart Plan.

The provincial policy does state that parents who do not want their child to attend in-person classes at a public or independent school do have the option to register their child for online and distributed learning or home-schooling. It adds that this is based on availability.

The petition claims the BC Government’s return to school plan has no basic safety guidelines or measures, that no physical distancing is required within learning groups and masks are not mandatory.

After last week’s announcement, BC Teachers Federation president Teri Mooring said the plan needs more time and a lot more work if it’s going to be successful and keep everyone safe.

The BCTF wants the planned resumption of in-class instruction to be delayed because “the plan is still a work in progress and there is a lot of room for improvement.”

You can read the petition details at Change.org.