Saskatchewan education support workers are extremely concerned that government direction to end contact tracing in schools increases COVID risks for students and staff.
“Moe has stripped away the paltry protections that were in place in our schools. It is completely unacceptable and shows this government’s total lack of regard for students and staff,” said Rob Westfield, chair of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers Steering Committee and a facility operator with Saskatoon Public Schools. Many of our members work in close physical proximity with students – providing hands on support and guidance for students with complex needs. The mental toll of not knowing if you have been exposed to COVID is immeasurable. We all have loved ones who are at higher risk – whether it is small children who are not yet vaccinated, seniors or immunocompromised. We are drowning, and the government is leaving us adrift.”
According to the latest announcement by the Government of Saskatchewan, parents and caregivers are no longer required to notify schools about positive test results for the purposes of close contact notification.
“Given the current record-high infection rates during this Omicron variant wave of COVID-19 and high numbers of people in hospital, it is reckless for the Sask. Party government to relax safety measures in schools,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. Our members in the education, health care and childcare sectors are exhausted and overwhelmed trying to protect our community and deliver public services,” said Henley. “The Sask. Party government continues its recklessness by relaxing measures at a time when frontline workers are calling for stronger measures to protect vital services.”
“This announcement is highly irresponsible. It removes incentives for unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. This will create more stress and anxiety for students and parents if they don’t know if other students are infected with COVID. We can’t turn a corner on the fifth wave of the pandemic, when the government is ending positive test reporting in schools and contact tracing. It puts politics over public health and the safety of students and staff,” concluded Westfield.
CUPE is the largest union in the province and represents over 7,000 education support workers in every corner of Saskatchewan.