SD72 board of school trustees chair John Kerr sent a letter to Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside on behalf of the board urging the provice to put teachers and school support staff near the front of the line for a COVID-19 vaccine. Mirror file photo

SD72 board of school trustees chair John Kerr sent a letter to Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside on behalf of the board urging the provice to put teachers and school support staff near the front of the line for a COVID-19 vaccine. Mirror file photo

Province asked to put teachers, school staff near front of the line for COVID-19 vaccine

Sends letter to education minister

Teachers and school support workers should be among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the Campbell River school board says.

“As the the provincial government deliberates on the groups of people who should receive the vaccine first, the board asks that the government give a high level of priority to teachers, educational assistants and others who work with cohorts of students,” SD72 board chair John Kerr says in a letter to B.C. Minister of Education, Jennifer Whiteside. “In our opinion, they deserve high priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.”

The letter to the minister is dated Dec. 2 and was sent prior to the latest news about the first doses of the vaccine arriving in the province this month. The letter acknowledges that plans for implementation of the vaccine were already in development and will include a distribution system that identifies and prioritizes which parts of the population will receive earlier access to a vaccine. Currently, this includes residents of long-term care and retirement homes, hospitals and health care facilities, wherever the risk of infection and transmission is higher, Kerr says.

Health officials are expected to reveal plans for B.C.’s share of the 249,000 vaccine doses later this week.

Kerr expressed “heartfelt admiration and appreciation” for all School District 72 employees who have made the return to school for students as safe as possible. These employees are providing an essential service to the children of B.C., he says.

“Despite uncertainty, frequent changes, fatigue, safety concerns, and stress, employees worked long and hard to make the return to school for students and colleagues as safe as possible,” Kerr says. “Despite some remaining concerns and questions that remain unanswerable, they continue to do so in classrooms, in hallways on buses, and on school grounds from the time students arrive each day until they leave.

“Those who work in classrooms are in a confined place with large numbers of students who are not required to wear masks. These workers are with the students for extended periods of time and they may face the increased threat of infection from the COVID-19 virus as a result of these conditions.”

To demonstrate support and appreciation for the work done by school district employees and to underline the board’s concern for their ongoing health and safety, the board “strongly requests and advocates that these employees, both in our district and across the province, be considered front-line workers who are providing an essential service.”

The board’s letter arose from a Campbell River Board of School trustees meeting held in November in which trustees felt teachers and school district employees were not getting the recognition they deserved in the face of the pandemic.

Trustee Richard Franklin said at that meeting that “there’s not very many positions in our society where you have an adult in a room with upward of 30 students with no masks on but that is what faces our teachers and educational assistants every day.”

Like nurses and doctors, teachers and school employees are placing themselves in a position of risk and they need the board’s support, Franklin said, and to that end, he put forward a motion to have the government place a high priority on providing a COVID-19 vaccine to school district employees.

RELATED: First Pfizer vaccine shots to be given right at delivery sites, not LTC homes: Tam

RELATED: Events, gatherings banned through Christmas, New Year’s in B.C. with no COVID reprieve in sight


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverCoronavirusSD72

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

With the help of a $110,000 federal grant, Saanich will be adding 22 new EV chargers for its municipal fleet to reduce emissions from district operations. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich adds 22 new EV chargers for municipal fleet to reduce corporate emissions

Federal grant adds $110,000 jolt to project, installation to be completed fall 2022

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read