Sask. NDP, health experts and parent groups call for clear COVID-19 protocols

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the province to bring in urgent measures to keep students and staff safe this fall.

Opposition leader Ryan Meili is asking the government to reconvene the legislature and release modelling and case numbers for school-aged children.

“Include in your daily numbers how many kids under 12 (contracted COVID-19), how many people who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated are contracting COVID, how many kids are in paediatric wards,” Meili said. “Tell people the truth about what is happening in our schools and in our hospitals.”

The NDP said since schools opened last week, school divisions in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Raymore and Punnichy have reported positive cases in classrooms.

The party is also asking the province to mandate masking in all schools and put COVID-19 vaccination requirements in place for teachers and school staff.

The administrator of the Safe Schools Saskatchewan Facebook page said she it is seeing similar calls from parents.

Margi Corbett runs the page and is a retired teacher. She said parents are posting about how confused they are with each division making it’s its own policies.

“They’ve been using words like ‘gong show’ and the ‘wild west’,” Corbett said. “And even ‘reckless’ and ‘heartless’ because these are their children.

Corbett added that many parents want the province to create a provincial set of rules that would be implemented in every school across the Saskatchewan, similar to the 2020-21 school year.

Infectious disease specialists have been following the trends and made similar requests in August when cases started to ride in the province.

“I’m not sure how longs schools are going to last in a setting like this where there is uncontrolled community transmission,” said Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease physician.

Wong said he doesn’t want to see schools shut down and move to remote learning again, but rising it looks like that is likely to happen at the rate cases are rising.

He added that the province should also re-implement mandatory quarantines for people who test positive. He said if that isn’t in place, it can’t be enforced, which is just letting the virus spread, especially though the unvaccinated population.

“You can’t put kids who are unvaccinated in a situation where you just allow all of them to get COVID. That is not an acceptable societal standard and unfortunately at the rate we are going that is probably where certain parts of the province, like Saskatoon and (Prince Albert) are moving towards,” Wong said.

CTV News reached out to the provincial government comment and had not received a response at the time of publication.