New School COVID-19 Guidelines Not Enough

August 20, 2021
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is encouraged to see the Government of Saskatchewan offer some guidance for schools and update vaccine eligibility for those who will turn 12 this year.

“Encouragement for vaccines and masking are a good place to start, but it isn’t enough,” said Patrick Maze, President of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. “With less than two weeks until students return to school this creates more questions than answers. Specific and concrete directives are what school divisions, teachers and parents are looking for right now.”

Maze points out that if school divisions choose to implement mandatory masking as recommended, there is limited time to communicate expectations to staff, students and parents as well as implement processes and procedures to manage it. It also forces school divisions and school principals into the unenviable position of making and enforcing decisions that are ultimately the responsibility of government.

“The list of Saskatchewan health professionals urging government to implement measures grows each day. At this late stage, we need clear direction from government that is aligned with recommendations from medical professionals,” said Maze. “Students have a right to a safe learning environment and staff to a safe working environment. Mandatory vaccines and masking are proven to help provide that environment.”

On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation called on the government to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all eligible staff and students, as well as implement masking, enhanced cleaning and social distancing policies consistent with the last school year. The Federation reiterates its position and urges the government to implement mandatory measures.

“Vaccines are scientifically proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19. Masks are also effective at reducing transmission. As we face down a fourth wave with the highly contagious Delta variant, we are calling on the government to take further action to protect those who cannot be vaccinated, including students who are not turning 12 years old this year.”

The Federation appreciates this guidance from government and will continue to advocate for further measures.