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Variants of Concern (VoC) Continue to Disrupt Schools and Education

March 25, 2021

Schools in Regina, Saskatchewan are experiencing a temporary closure, many to return on April 12, 2021 after the Easter break. This is due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, many of which are confirmed or suspected Variants of Concern (VoC), which may be up to 70% more transmissible. Given this, the Catholic School System in Regina has also recommended that children and teachers receive two COVID-19 tests before returning to school. This second test should take place near the 10 day mark after the potential exposure to ensure that there is no illness present that may be asymptomatic. Given the increased risk associated with VoC’s, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has advised that all cases within schools be treated as though they are a variant at this point in time.

With the repeated disruption to learning routines, women predominantly leaving the workforce to care for their children during school closures has been a concern as well. These repeated disruptions to education are expected to continue as many teachers themselves are often ill or isolating, depleting the number of educators available for children and youth. One possible solution to this is to prioritize the vaccination of teachers. This step has been taken in New Brunswick, where high school teachers and staff will be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as part of their school reopening plan. This offer will be extended to youth 16 and older with complex medical conditions. In the coming weeks, more vaccination clinics will be available for staff in elementary and middle schools and for early childhood service providers, including childcare staff. British Columbia is said to be ahead of their aged-based vaccination plan, and will therefore be offering eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccination to more than 300,000 front-line workers, such as teachers, child-care workers, postal workers, grocery store staff, and first responders, as early as April 2021.

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