Sask. Teachers' Federation urges mandatory masks, COVID-19 vaccines for high schools
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) wants mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for eligible students and staff.
Most Regina and Saskatoon elementary schools will require masks for elementary students - but not in high schools - when classes resume in the fall.
“It's a good plan in that it requires masking at all times, in elementary school. We know that our elementary students are vulnerable because they're not eligible for vaccines,” STF president Patrick Maze tells CTV News.
“The high schools not requiring masks and not requiring vaccination — it's a recipe for disaster."
Maze wants COVID-19 vaccination to be a condition of employment for teachers mandated by the province.
“The government could give the direction simply from the top, saying everyone entering our school buildings must be vaccinated,” Maze says.
Manitoba is requiring all educational staff — including teachers, bus drivers and custodial staff — to be fully immunized for COVID-19 by the end of October.
For those unable to get their shots, Manitoba government employees will have to submit testing up to three times per week.
The Saskatoon Teachers Association (STA) approves of school boards deciding their own plans.
“I’m really happy with the plan. I’m proud of our folks, they stood up and did the right thing,” STA President John McGettigan says.
“They’re going to get some friction from both sides of the argument, but I think they’ve found that happy middle and trusted the people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to pandemics.”
McGettigan says it will be a relief for parents of kindergarteners who can now meet their child’s teacher.
“I found it heartbreaking last year that parents couldn’t meet teachers on the first day of school,” McGettigan says.
“This year, parents can come in, with their masks, and meet each other safely.”
Sept. 1 marks the first day of class for most schools in Saskatchewan.
An earlier headline indicated the STF called the school divisions' plans "a recipe for disaster," when in fact Maze used the phrase specifically to describe high schools not requiring masks and vaccination.