After contracting COVID-19, Sask. teacher wants educators vaccinated
SASKATOON -- There are increasing calls to get education staff vaccinated with more aggressive COVID-19 variants spreading and the weekend death of a Prince Albert educator.
Victoria Dyck teaches in the Prairie Spirit School Division and is isolating in her basement after being told Thursday that she was positive for COVID-19.
Dyck says her husband who is also a teacher was diagnosed with cancer last year and she has two young children so their family bubble is small and they are being vigilant to reduce the spread of the disease.
No one else in her family tested positive which was a huge relief to her.
She believes she contracted COVID-19 at school from an asymptomatic carrier which is concerning because all possible precautions are being taken.
She took to Facebook on the weekend to ask for vaccination for teachers and received hundreds of shares, comments and likes hoping to spread the word about getting educators protected.
“No matter how hard we are trying - and we are trying really, really hard to keep these kids and families safe - there’s just something more that needs to be done particularly with how faster and aggressive these variants of concern are,” Dyck told CTV News.
Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, agrees.
“Having priority vaccinations for teachers just seems like such a no-brainer,” Maze told CTV News.
“Evidence suggests that it affects younger and younger people and it’s more highly contagious and asymptomatic. It’s critical that people working around those youth where social distancing isn’t occurring are vaccinated because we’ll see more consequences like school staff getting sick and hospitalized.
“And this past weekend has shown what happens when we don’t protect our staff,” he said, referring to the death of Prince Albert guidance counsellor Victor Thunderchild.
Maze says the provincial government is the employer of teachers and should do more to protect staff.
“We missed an opportunity over the Easter break when we wouldn’t have had to leave our classrooms to get vaccinated. It just seems like missed opportunity after missed opportunity. The common factor throughout is that school staff are being left unsafe and if that’s the case then school communities are unsafe so it’s not a surprise that it’s spreading throughout Saskatchewan,” Maze told CTV News.
John McGettigan, the president of The Saskatoon Teachers’ Association, echoes the calls for government to act now to save the rest of the school year.
“It shouldn’t take somebody dying. I don’t want this to be the end of the school year. I think we have a chance to save this school year,” McGettigan told CTV News.
The 2020 in-person school year ended in March and McGettigan wants every effort made by government to ensure that doesn’t happen this year.
“Last year was so hard on teachers and students. For retiring teachers, graduating grade eights, graduating grade twelves, the last time they were in those buildings was in March. We don’t have to do that this year. Vaccines are one element to get us to that successful spot,” he said.
The province announced earlier this month that its was expanding vaccination delivery for remaining healthcare workers, pharmacy staff and those working in grocery facilities.
However, teachers weren’t on the list.