Teachers, parents concerned with return to in-person learning in Regina
REGINA -- Monday’s announcement to have Regina Public and Catholic school students return to in-person learning on May 3 isn’t sitting well with all parents.
“My concern is, the students will be bringing the virus to the classroom and infecting other children. And those children will be, if they don’t get sick themselves, they will be bringing it home and giving it to their parents,” said Tracey Sanders, a Regina mother whose son attends a school in the Regina Catholic School Division.
Sanders said she and her husband have underlying health conditions, and neither have been vaccinated yet, so she is unsure if she will send her son back to school next week.
“Our levels are very high right now in Regina. I don’t understand why they are even considering moving back to a level 2 at this time,” said Sanders. “Schools should be at a level 4 until more people in the community and the teachers can get vaccinated.”
Sanders is not alone in these concerns. A petition has been started, calling on Regina school divisions to stop the return to classroom learning plan.
Patrick Maze, the president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, said he has heard from many teachers who are terrified to return to schools.
“We have had conversations with teachers who are indicating that they want to refuse to work. They feel it’s unusually dangerous,” Maze said.
Maze said rapid testing still isn’t up and running schools. He said schools need to be able to detect asymptomatic cases, and have teachers vaccinated, to keep everyone protected.
“Everybody wants to be back to face-to-face learning as soon as possible,” he said. “But, at the same point, at what price to everyone’s health and at what risk are we going to take, when those are unnecessary, we can continue on with online learning.”
NDP Leader, Ryan Meili, said Regina Covid-19 case numbers are ‘settling down,’ but he said the government needs to keep a close eye on the situation.
“We know the variants spread quicker in schools. We know that we’ve got the P.1 variant now, along with B.1.17. We need to be watching very closely in schools,” Meili said.
The province said they will monitor the cases and update the divisions if needed.
“Right now, it is the advice of public health, and school divisions agree, that Regina can safely start in-class learning. But, these things are assessed on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, said.
Spokespeople for the Regina Catholic and Public Schools Divisions said the divisions are aware of the petition, but have no comments on it at this time.