Teachers Question Why Front Line Workers Not Prioritized for Vaccination

News Release 2021 02 19

The Government of Alberta has ignored the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) by not prioritizing front-line workers for COVID-19 vaccines.

“This government sent teachers back to packed classrooms without adequate protections and now refuses to prioritize their access to the most important tool to prevent possible infection and spread. Just yesterday Health Minister Tyler Shandro said decisions would be based on the recommendations of NACI and today they are ignoring those recommendations.”

—ATA President Jason Schilling 

NACI identifies front-line workers as a key population in Stage 2 of COVID vaccination, whereas the Alberta government plan released today instead prioritizes in phase 2 over a million other Albertans who do not face additional impacts, vulnerabilities or increased exposure risk. 

“Teachers, other school employees and, frankly, every front-line worker in the province have been working diligently to support the lives and livelihoods of Albertans. The Government of Alberta has an obligation to protect front-line workers and today they failed to uphold that obligation.”

—ATA President Jason Schilling 

Schilling says he has been pressing the minister of education and other government officials for months to consider education staff as a priority for vaccination. The call for prioritizing education staff was also reiterated by many school boards, including Alberta’s large four metro boards, whose schools, particularly large high schools, have been regularly disrupted this year by infections, spread, quarantines and isolation orders. All education stakeholder organizations have joined in the call to ensure that school staff are vaccinated earlier in the roll out.

“Give us the tools and teachers will keep schools open and ensure that student learning continues—priority access to immunization for teachers is essential if Alberta is to return to a new normal and protect the physical, social and economic wellbeing of the entire community as this pandemic continues to evolve.”

—ATA President Jason Schilling 

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with President Schilling, contact Mark Milne at 780-905-0014.