With COVID-19 cases rising, STF calling for more measures in schools
REGINA -- As Saskatchewan sees COVID-19 cases spike to record highs, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation says more should be done to ensure the safety of students and staff in schools.
"As it affects more and more schools, members’ anxiety increases substantially and so definitely it’s a huge concern," said STF President Patrick Maze on Monday.
"Schools have really done a good job of creating a safe environment, but the difficult thing is it seems to be out in our communities, which is where some sort of tighter restrictions need to be made. Otherwise, it keeps creeping into our schools."
With more cases in communities around the province, more infections are being reported in schools. As of Saturday, 124 positive cases have been found in schools since Nov. 7.
Over the past three days, 11 Regina schools have reported a case of COVID-19, forcing affected students to move to online learning.
Outbreaks in schools have been increasing over the past month with 21 schools in the province having an outbreak declared.
The Regina region has the most affected schools with ten, while the Saskatoon region has seen five outbreaks in schools. There have been four in the north region and two in the south region.
Tywlla West with the Regina Catholic School Division said it’s important to note that transmission hasn’t been occurring in schools. Most are reporting a single case.
"At this point, we have faith in all the policies and procedures that we have in place," she said. "No known transmission within our school buildings is a very positive thing and we’re just prepared."
The return to school brought many changes for teachers, students and parents. West said they’ve been handling it all well.
"We’re just continuing to focus on the students and their learning and what they need to keep going. This certainly has been a very strange school year," she said.
"This is a really difficult time and we’re living in a very abnormal situation."
While school divisions, teachers and students have been working to keep cases in schools isolated, the STF would like to see the province step up measures, including making masks mandatory in all classrooms from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 province-wide and move more schools into a level three scenario.
"We have to figure out ways to ensure schools do stay open because it’s critical to the economy," Maze said. "We know that if schools close, then parents have to stay home with their children and that’s really hard on the economy."
Last week, the province moved high schools with 600 or more students to a level three.
In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Education said it isn’t planning additional changes at this time, but school divisions have plans in place to move to a different level if needed.