The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is calling on the government to immediately reinstate COVID-19 measures in classrooms after wastewater results showed COVID-19 cases increasing dramatically in Saskatoon.
Saskatchewan teachers are worried that COVID-19 in the classroom could get out of hand with no requirement in place for students or teachers to report a positive result.
“Personal responsibility isn’t working in Saskatchewan. We need government to show some responsibility and some leadership and to implement some tough decisions,” said Patrick Maze, President of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation.
The teachers are calling for a return to mandatory masking in classrooms, isolation for close contacts, access to PCR testing for staff, sharing of COVID-19 data with schools and better public reporting of cases.
Maze said with the COVID-19 numbers in hospitals, the high wastewater counts and high absentee rate from school employees, they feel something needs to be done.
“We have an obligation, a responsibility to make sure our students have a safe learning environment and make sure that the employees in schools have a safe working environment,” he said. “It’s unfortunate but nobody wants to kind of regress back to old measures but at the same point, the old measures were working.”
COVID-19 statistics were shared at a meeting of the Regina Board of Education this week which showed a slightly improved situation. For the week of March 29, 200 students and staff were absent because of COVID-19 with the number declining to 173 last week.
“We seem to have a number of students and staff that continue to be out ill,” said Greg Enion, Director of Education for Regina Public Schools.
The Saskatchewan government said it’s not backtracking with a new round of restrictions.
“It’s not something that we’re looking at mandating from the government but again it’s anybody’s choice whether they want to wear a mask or not,” said Minister of Health, Paul Merriman.
The teachers’ union believes if the government won’t act, school boards and local medical health officers should.
“They need to make sure that their communities are kept safe even though it might be going against that kind of populist political trend that’s going across our province and a few other provinces right now,” said Maze.