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

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River dock fire spread slowed thanks to security guard

Creosote docks pose challenges for fire fighters

Scenes like this one in the dugout are all too frequent for parents and kids arriving to play baseball at Nunns Creek Park these days, spurring a request to the city to let them move to the Sportsplex in Willow Point. Photo from CRMB presentation to City of Campbell River
Safety concerns run Campbell River Minor Baseball out of Nunns Creek Park

Parents say ‘needle and feces sweeps’ have become part of everyday life for the baseball community

The cover of the newly redesigned Beaver Lodge Forest Lands activity guide. Photo courtesy Greenways Land Trust
Greenways redesigns Beaver Lodge activity guide

Guide has helped teach students for over a decade

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Pixabay
Island Health: two doctors, new clinic space to avert Port McNeill health crisis

Island Health has leased space to use as an immediate clinic location to avert health crisis

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

A poignant Pandemic Postcard Project submission has led Lesley Wright and Graham Hughes of Literacy Alberni on a new path toward anti-racism education. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
‘I am not a virus’: How one postcard sparked a Vancouver Island pushback against racism

Literacy Alberni receives $50K in funding to create web-driven system for reporting racism

Most Read