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Schools must stay open during pandemic to protect future female leaders: Canadian teachers

A look inside an empty classroom in the Greater Vancouver Area. (PHOTO: Lasia Kretzel, NEWS1130)

OTTAWA — Schools need to stay open despite some declaring isolated cases of COVID-19 or working mothers will suffer, suggests the head of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

Shelly Morse, president of the federation, said women primarily make up the care economy, in positions such as nursing, teaching, and childcare, and that they have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“Women were also trying to juggle their work lives and take care of their children and make sure their house ran as smoothly as possible, with the help, of course, of their partners. But if you were a single woman, you were doing it all by yourself,” she added.

Keeping schools open would allow women to go back into the workforce and help the economy recover, Morse said.

She also said the federal government needs to do more to curb the spread of COVID-19, including implementing a national strategy on masking and distancing in schools, or future generations of female leaders could be lost.

“Our schools have to stay open, and we’re looking for government to make sure that they are stainable operations of our schools, so that we can stay in school and students can be there, and women can go back into the workforce,” Morse said.

“If women are forced to choose to stay home, we lose nearly half our workforce. And we also set ourselves up to lose future generations of women leaders.”

According to the advocacy group Support our Students (SOS) Alberta, just over 60 schools in the province have reported COVID-19 cases since school restarted.

Nine of those schools are designated as outbreaks.