Teachers' Federation Wants Teachers Included on Vaccine Priority List

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As provinces finalize rollout plans for COVID-19 vaccines, the Canadian Teachers' Federation is calling on governments across the country to include teachers and education workers on the vaccine priority list.

Federation president Shelly Morse says school staff risk exposure every day as they're in close contact with students and other staff with proper physical distancing often not possible in many classrooms.

Morse says teachers should be next in line after vulnerable populations and health care workers.

"The protocols that are in place for the public such as masking, two metre physical distancing, being in rooms that are properly ventilated and having screening protocols, that's not necessarily the case with our schools," she says.

Morse says, at this point, students under 16 cannot be vaccinated further increasing the risk.

"Students are in those schools and because they can't get a vaccine they need to be protected and one way to protect them is by making sure that teachers and education workers get the vaccine sooner rather than later," she says.

Morse also says that ventilation is a problem in many schools.

"Many of our schools are older buildings. They don't have proper ventilation or it doesn't work well. Windows don't open properly in all the schools," she says. "So we are in a position where we are in a building that is described by the World Health Organization as a place you shouldn't be if you want to steer clear of getting coronavirus."

Vaccines began to arrive in Canada Monday with the first doses being given to frontline workers and long-term care staff and residents across the country.

Locally, 2,500 doses are expected to arrive in Windsor-Essex before the new year — that's enough to vaccinate 1,250 frontline workers as two doses are needed.

 

With files from Kristylee Varley