Parents, teachers nervous about return to classrooms as COVID-19 infections surge in B.C.
As COVID-19 cases climb and the school year nears, some Vancouver Island parents say the time for mandatory vaccinations is now.
"My unpopular opinion would be that you only get to come if your family is vaccinated, because otherwise you're putting the entire class at risk,” said Jennifer Jollymore, who is a parent of two school aged children.
Teachers are also nervous about a return to the classroom with last year’s pandemic protocols no longer expected to be in place and infections now the highest BC has seen in over three months.
"I'm hearing more and more about, ‘What is the plan for September?’” said Winona Waldron, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers Association.
The GVTA is calling on the province for three things: The first is to fund the upgrading of schools’ ventilation systems. The second is for the province to announce what plans are being discussed for the school year if the number of community infections continue to climb. The third is for mobile vaccine clinics in schools.
"Set-up for the day at a school and anybody in that school community, including parents or caregivers, could get vaccinated if they haven't been,” said Waldron.
“I think that’s a superb idea; it should be done,” said Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre.
Experts say mobile vaccine clinics in schools would target a younger demographic currently lagging behind other age groups.
B.C.’s recent surge in infections has been driven by people who aren’t yet fully vaccinated, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
"It's mostly young people many who have not yet had the opportunity or many opportunities to get immunized, but now is your chance, particularly as we head back to school,” Henry said.
Although she’s pushing for people to get vaccinated, Henry did not announce any pandemic protocols for September’s return to class on Thursday.
In the mean time, parents can’t help but feel nervous.
"You know, with the numbers now and the rise in the Delta variant, I think (it’s) a little bit concerning,” said Rhianna Brown, a mother of one school aged child.