STF: COVID-19 variants not just Regina’s problem

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is urging increased vigilance in protecting against COVID-19, saying the spread of its highly contagious variants is now a problem for more than just Regina.

“We were concerned with the rise in cases before the break and called for all schools to move to remote learning to be proactive in preventing spread,” said Patrick Maze, President, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. “Predictably, case numbers have continued to climb at an exponential rate throughout the province. This is no longer an issue for just Regina and southeast Saskatchewan but in fact for all schools in all regions of Saskatchewan.”

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Since April 1, COVID-19 and variant cases have increased 162 percent in Saskatoon and by 83 percent provincewide, including cases in Prince Albert, Nipawin, Humboldt, Strasbourg and Lloydminster. Border communities such as Lloydminster are also at risk from both the B.1.1.7 (UK variant) dominating in Saskatchewan and the P.1 (Brazil variant), which has spread into most regions of Alberta.

According to the Province of Saskatchewan’s statistics, as of April 8, 3,086 variants of concern have been identified by screening in Saskatchewan, reported in the Far North West (2), Far North East (4), North West (7), North Central (24), Saskatoon (189), Central West (13), Central East (71), Regina (2,189), South West (19), South Central (266), and South East (283) zones. There are 19 cases with residence pending.

“People who gathered and travelled during the break will now congregate in schools, increasing the risk of transmission for all,” said Maze. “I urge everyone to follow all precautions as they return to school and stay home at even the smallest sign of illness and request the use of the rapid tests where available.”

Maze commends all staff working in schools, including support staff, custodians, bus drivers, in-school administrators and teachers, who have worked to keep students safe in difficult circumstances.

“I applaud the school divisions that made the proactive decision to keep staff and students safe by returning from the break with remote learning. Congregate settings such as schools provide increased opportunity for transmission,” said Maze. “While in-person learning is best and preferred, the health and safety of our students and staff needs to be a priority.”

For a list of cases in Saskatchewan schools, see here or copy and paste the following into your browser:

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