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Why it’s ‘urgent’ B.C. teachers get vaccinated from COVID-19 before summer

BC Teachers’ Federation is calling for the province to inoculate its exhausted teachers with the COVID-19 vaccine before summer.

“We’ve kept B.C. schools open throughout the pandemic but it’s come at a cost: teachers’ physical and mental health,” stated president Teri Mooring.

“It’s important for both their safety and peace of mind that they get vaccinated.”

With recent vaccine approvals in Canada, Mooring said there’s more space than ever for teachers to get vaccinated alongside other essential workers.

“There’s an urgency now that we know of 16 schools in the Fraser Health region that reported variant COVID-19 cases,” she told Black Press Media Friday.

RELATED: Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Even with the addition of rapid response teams in the sector, Mooring still doesn’t think enough is being done to prevent virus transmission in schools.

“Even before variants were detected, teachers were deeply unsatisfied with the safety protocols in place,” said Mooring, highlighting the federation’s ongoing appeal for a broader in-school mask mandate and reduction in class sizes.

“The provincial health officer continues to tell us that rates of COVID-19 transmission in schools are low, but the data is telling a different story.”

Evidence from WorkSafeBC shows teachers being infected with COVID-19 more than all others employed – aside from B.C. health care workers.

Eighty-two per cent of teachers’ COVID-19 claims have been accepted by the Workers’ Compensation Board, compared to 70 per cent from those in other sectors.

READ MORE: ‘Status quo is unacceptable’: BCTF calls on Fraser Health to improve school safety

Since early December, the education sector has seen a 250 per cent increase in claims relating to the virus, WorkSafeBC data reveals.

“Teachers would feel more comfortable if they at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before going into the next school year,” Mooring stated.

“Vaccinations will also allow schools to be reliable and stay open.”



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

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