'It requires some courageous leadership': STF calls for more school divisions to go to online after Easter break

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) says it would like to see more schools in Saskatchewan move to Level Four, after three school divisions in the Regina area announced last week they would be making the move to remote learning following the Easter break.

“A number of school divisions in the south part of the province have gone online for the two weeks after the Easter break…it makes a lot of sense and really protects student, family and teachers’ health,” said Patrick Maze, STF president. “The variant is what we're really worried about here, and it's already spread up into Strasbourg, Humboldt, Saskatoon...The numbers that the medical professionals up there are seeing are kind of doubling on a regular basis, and so it's a real concern.”

Maze said the STF has the ability to trace where the virus is going a bit ahead of, or at the same time as, the health community. According to Maze, deploying rapid tests to schools sooner may have prevented variant of concern from spreading to other communities.

“Had Regina been able to do rapid testing earlier and maybe more evasive decisions – significant decisions – earlier, it might not have gone to Moose Jaw. [The variant] might not have gone to Weyburn and Estevan and spread throughout the southern part of the province,” said Maze. “Now we have the ability to shut down a number of school divisions, move them online, and potentially prevent it from spreading even further.”

Maze said the provincial government and other school divisions should be trying to get ahead of the virus.

“I get the fact that it's difficult decisions, but really it requires some courageous leadership to say, ‘We're going to do this. We're going to get in front of this.’ As opposed to, ‘We're going to react when it hits every town in our province.’”

“Teachers want to be in their classrooms, there's no doubt about that,’ Maze said. “And we know that students and parents want to be in the classrooms as well. The difficulty is, how do we do that safely? And are we just going to end up with a shut down in the near future because we didn't act soon enough?”