Concern, surprise and unanswered questions are what NDP Education Critic Carla Beck has heard from parents and school staff over the last few days.
She said the reactions are from conversations she has had with people in the education community following announcements from the Regina Catholic and Public school divisions to return to in-class learning starting Monday.
Beck said some in the community are excited for the return of students and staff to classrooms, but others are wondering if this is the right time with variants of concern and over 800 active COVID-19 cases in Regina.
“I guess if there was one overarching theme, it would be anxiety,” Beck shared. “Trepidation and those outstanding questions about what has changed since before Easter to make it safe now when it wasn’t safe then is what I’m hearing.”
She said the situation would have been much better if COVID-19 vaccines were getting into the arms of school-based staff before the Easter break.
“What we see now is that eligibility becoming available on Friday, but it takes at least two to three weeks to develop a level of immunity,” she mentioned. “That protection is not going to be there for those two weeks and I think that’s an unfortunate oversight by the government.”
Education Minister Dustin Duncan said on Wednesday after question period that he understands some families might be apprehensive, however he said he knows some families are excited about students being back in classrooms.
Duncan hopes eligible education staff have already gotten their COVID-19 vaccine or will be booking an appointment when they become eligible on Friday as part of the government’s move to get some frontline workers in clinics to receive their first dose.
“We understand that people wanted access to the vaccine earlier, but we have only been able to accommodate the numbers based on the supplies we received from the federal government,” explained Duncan.
He added that measures are in place to limit the spread of the virus in schools including rapid tests and access to additional medical masks for staff and students.
Parental consent will be required before a rapid test can be administered to a student under 14 years of age. Students 14 and over will have to give permission on the consent form.