(Black Press Media files)

Teachers and school employees’ sacrifices in the battle against COVID-19 ignored: school trustees

Recognition deserved and any vaccine rollout should include them early on, trustees say

Teachers and school staff are “working with distinction” under trying circumstances on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic and deserve recognition for that, SD72 trustees say.

And in that light, the SD72 Board of School Trustees is writing a letter telling the provincial government that school employees, along with health-care workers, should be among the first to get any COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

“They have become our frontline workers,” Trustee Daryl Hagen said at the SD72 board’s Nov. 10 meeting. “They are critical for our society to keep functioning, for children to be safe, for children to learn, for families to co-exist, for businesses to thrive…And it’s our teachers and our CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) members and I’m going to miss somebody if I list them all…”

With the meeting being held on the eve of Remembrance Day, Hagen drew parallels between the homefront of the war years and the uncertainty and stress of the current pandemic.

“People made huge sacrifices with their businesses, with their farms, with their families to fight a battle and we have a battle before us right now,” Hagen said. “It is massive. It’s worldwide and everyone needs to do their part but I’d like everyone in this area, in Campbell River, to recognize the job that teachers are doing as frontline workers, as CUPE members clean the schools, as our bus drivers drive the buses around and as our principals and vice-principals hang onto the steering wheel and try to steer it.

“And let’s not forget all the changes from the upper management, you know, trying to create an environment that’s safe and so far we’ve been lucky but luck doesn’t come on its own. This is hard work and people are tired and I would like to recognize that.”

Hagen said he has visited schools and noted the work being done by school district employees and wanted the board to produce a letter or do something to recognize the work its employees are doing.

“Bring them a bowl of soup and put it on their doorway, I don’t know what to say but we need to do something and as a board I would like to see us put a letter forward and say you are working with distinction,” Hagen said, “that we have nothing but admiration for the workers in this district.”

Trustee Joyce McMann said it’s gone largely unnoticed by the media and by the public the kind of commitment that it has taken to keep our schools running safely and to move forward with public education.

“I think we need to get those pots and pans banging as superintendent (Jeremy) Morrow suggested,” McMann said. “It’s time. It’s time to recognize our staff throughout the district who have made our goals and aspirations possible through this time.”

Later in the meeting, Trustee Richard Franklin led a discussion on a potential COVID-19 vaccine from the U.S. company Pfizer. He put forward a motion that a letter be written by the district encouraging the provincial government to place a high priority in providing a COVID-19 vaccine, when it is available, to school employees, alongside health-care professionals, given how many people teachers, support staff and other school employees come into close contact with daily.

Franklin cited, as an example, a music teacher he knows in another school district who comes into contact with 400 students and to bring the topic around to Trustee Hagen’s earlier points, that teacher talked about “how stressed, how exhausted he was to bring home COVID-19 to his family, to his grandchildren and that sort of thing.”

“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,” Franklin said.

When Franklin reads articles about the rollout of a vaccine, he doesn’t see teachers mentioned. SD72 and school districts around the province have done a “very good job” of mitigating the risks of COVID-19 but the risks haven’t been eliminated. Like nurses and doctors, teachers and school employees are placing themselves in a position of risk and they need the board’s support. To that end, Franklin put forward the motion to have the government place a high priority on providing a COVID-19 vaccine to school district employees. Franklin’s motion passed.

RELATED: Second COVID-19 case at Nanaimo high school makes a ‘cluster’

RELATED: COVID-19 case confirmed at Carihi Secondary School


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverCoronavirusEducationSD72

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

Just Posted

Tyson Popove placed second in his category at the Mt. Washington Viewtour Virtual Slopestyle event. Photo by Shawn Corrigan
Campbell River skier goes big at Mt. Washington competition

Tyson Popove places second in virtual slopestyle event

Elk Falls plunges into the canyon during a high flow event. Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror file
Water flows down Elk Falls Canyon to increase to accommodate steelhead migration

Public safety advisory in place for the river from John Hart Dam to Elk Falls during the migration flows

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead on Quadra Island

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

The Downtown Safety Select Committee has floated the idea of removing the glass on the Spirit Square stage structure in the winter. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Proposed Spirit Square glass removal disables sheltered gathering place, advocates say

Downtown Safety Select Committee floats idea of removing glass roof from public facility

John Hart Dam near Campbell River, B.C. BC Hydro photo
John Hart Dam project will move massive amounts of earthfill

The John Hart Dam seismic upgrade will truck more than twice as… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Campbell River’s new hospital, July 2018
Comox Starthcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Most Read