As COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up in Alberta, ATA president Jason Schilling is calling for teachers and other school workers to be treated as a priority group in phase two.
“The government has prioritised keeping schools open and the continuation of in-person learning for the benefit of student well-being and supporting the economy,” Schilling said. “It only makes sense that the desire to keep schools open would be supported by getting teachers vaccinated as soon as reasonably possible.”
Schilling says that school staff should be queued up after front-line health-care workers and those who are medically vulnerable to face worse outcomes if they contract COVID-19.
“We are in awe of the sacrifices, commitment and hard work exhibited by those working in health care and long-term care settings. These are the heroes of the pandemic and we are grateful to them,” he said.
He added that, after those workers and the patients that need protecting, teachers should be a priority.
“Teachers are in close contact with large numbers of people for extended periods of time. We have seen how disruptive and costly it has been when teachers and classes have had to isolate. Vaccinating school staff will go a long way to keep schools open and operating stably.”
He also notes that none of the currently approved vaccines for COVID-19 have been approved for use on children, which should elevate the importance of vaccinating the adults who come in contact with them on a regular basis.
Schilling’s request echoes a similar statement released by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation regarding teachers across the country.
“Given how essential it is that school buildings remain open for all students to learn to the best of their ability and for the economy to recover, and considering the actual working conditions for teachers and education workers, it is imperative that teachers and education workers be prioritized to receive the coronavirus vaccine,” says CTF president Shelley Morse.
Schilling said he has spoken with the deputy minister for education directly about this request. The government has stated that no decisions have yet been made about priorities for phase two vaccination, which is set to begin by April.
As of Jan. 6, 33,864 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Alberta, which has received about 60,000 of the 549,000 doses of vaccine secured by the Government of Canada . ❚