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Alberta school staff ask to be higher on vaccination list

Last Updated Jan 29, 2021 at 6:41 am MDT

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – The Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF) says school staff to be put near the front of the class for COVID-19 immunization.

“Teachers and education workers should be next in line to be vaccinated,” said Shelley Morse, president of CTF.

“Requests have largely been ignored.”

She says so far their pleas have fallen on deaf ears despite COVID-19 protocols not always being followed correctly.

“Students are sitting close together, not necessarily wearing masks, the ventilation systems in our schools are non-existent or faulty at best.”

Those concerns only heighten as neither the Pfizer nor Moderna vaccines are currently approved for those under 16, despite new unknowns emerging.

“Doctors are talking now that the new variant strain that we may need to wear masks outside our schools as well as inside,” said Morse.

Four of Alberta’s largest school boards have come together to issue their plea with a letter this week, asking school staff to be prioritized after health workers and high-risk individuals.

“The metro school boards came together to write a letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro,” said Trisha Estabrooks, Edmonton Public School Board Chair.

“Teachers, educational assistants, custodians, other staff working directly with our children in our schools are in situations daily that put them at greater risk to contract the virus.”

However, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says any answer is contingent on distribution and supply from the federal government.

“We need to give that clarity and we need to, to keep our schools open, we need to provide some certainty to the most vulnerable in our province and for us to do that we need the federal government to do their job.”

Morse says that does not stop him from putting school staff higher on the list.

“Knowing how many you’re getting is irrelevant, you can make up your list and have it there for everyone to see and you can prioritize people.”

There are 300 schools in the province with active alerts as of Thursday.