Greater Victoria Teachers' Association calls for return of COVID-19 safety protocols as clusters increase in schools

Concern is rising for kids in Vancouver Island elementary schools. As of Monday, there are 10 COVID-19 clusters at schools being reported by Island Health, a total that's doubled in just four days.

"We have a problem right now that is not being addressed,” said Winona Waldron, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association.

A cluster is defined as two or more cases within a 14-day period, with evidence of transmission occurring within the school.

There are currently three clusters in schools in the Mid-Island, while the South Island has seven.

The hardest hit school in Greater Victoria may be Sir James Douglas Elementary in Victoria.

The president of the Greater Victoria Teachers Association said last week that half the students at Sir James Douglas weren’t at the school as they were either at home sick, or at home as a precaution.

In B.C., kids under 12 are the demographic with the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases. The transmission is being fueled by the delta variant.

Waldron says now is the time to bring back cohorts, move towards hybrid learning and make masks mandatory for children from kindergarten to Grade 3.

"I believe things are going to be changed," said Waldron on Monday. "They are very necessary at this point."

Not everyone is calling for change, however, including this parent of a 5-year-old.

"I feel like my son's school is doing the best that they can do to keep the kids safe," she said.

Waldron’s concern isn’t only for students. She says she spoke with a teacher in the Greater Victoria School District on Monday who, despite being fully vaccinated, is now seriously ill with COVID-19.

"She's double vaccinated and has contracted COVID, she believes at work, and is deeply concerned about what that means," said Waldron.

The teacher who has requested that her school and identity stay anonymous told Waldron that she was following all COVID-19 safety protocols and is currently "very ill" at home, recovering.