At the time of writing this, COVID-19 variants have been detected in schools in Regina, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Melville, File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council area and, most recently, Saskatoon.
It is safe to say the third wave is upon us. While vaccines are beginning to be more widely distributed and administered, even those vaccinated are still at risk until they build up immunity, which can take up to three weeks after vaccination.
Despite the advocacy of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, the Saskatchewan School Boards Association and the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents, the provincial government has indicated front line school employees will not receive any priority access to vaccinations.
One factor that could help to keep school employees more safe is knowledge of who in our buildings has the COVID-19 variant. This could be indicated by deploying the rapid test kits provided by our federal government back in early fall 2020. Each test is capable of returning results in about 15 minutes.
More than 400,000 of these tests have been delivered to our province, with 100,000 earmarked for rapid testing in public schools. At a February 11 news conference, Premier Scott Moe apologized publicly for not deploying the rapid tests sooner, stating, “[they] … should have been dispersed sooner and we do need to do better here in Saskatchewan."
Over a month later, and as COVID-19 variants spread across our province, we still await news about when and how these rapid tests will be deployed into our schools.