STF Calls For Consistent Measures to Protect Children

September 14, 2021
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is calling on the Government of Saskatchewan to take immediate action to protect school children, particularly those younger students who are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

“Since mid-July, case numbers in Saskatchewan children and youth have been nearly doubling each week,” said Patrick Maze, STF President. “We do not know what the long-term impacts of COVID-19 may be on children. There are simple, accessible and effective tools that we know work - small class sizes, masking, vaccines for those eligible and social distancing. Without a provincial Public Health Order, this dire situation is only going to get worse.”

The Federation is calling on the government to immediately:

  • Introduce a provincewide Public Health Order for masks and mandatory isolation that does not leave children unprotected.
  • Mandate vaccines for all eligible school staff and students, as requested by the STF Executive on August 16.
  • Provide a detailed breakdown of case counts, hospitalizations and ICU admissions for additional age categories of those under 19 years.

“Students have a right to an education in a safe environment. Government’s contradictory and inconsistent measures are putting our most vulnerable at risk,” said Maze.

Maze points to the exemptions for schools and daycares in the new mandatory isolation requirement as an example: If a student is deemed a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19 at school they can still attend classes, but not other activities. While if the exposure took place outside of school, the isolation order applies and they cannot attend school at all.

“Where someone is exposed to COVID-19 does not impact their ability to get sick or spread the illness. Not only are the rules illogical, but they will also be very difficult to implement in our schools. Our children and school staff will continue to be at risk.”

On August 16, the STF Executive passed a motion to call on government to make vaccines mandatory for all eligible students and school staff, and has also been calling for additional measures such as masking to be put in place. Maze says increasing instances of asymptomatic cases in those who are fully vaccinated are a significant risk to the unvaccinated student population.

“Our hospitals are full; surgeries and procedures are being cancelled. Burnt out frontline health care workers are being subjected to protests outside of hospitals. This isn’t hypothetical, it is real. We urge the government to make children’s health and education a priority and help protect students and staff in our schools against COVID-19,” said Maze.