2,500 Central Okanagan teachers, school staff get their COVID-19 jabs | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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2,500 Central Okanagan teachers, school staff get their COVID-19 jabs

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
May 05, 2021 - 10:34 AM

Thousands of teachers across the Central Okanagan have rolled up their sleeves and taken their COVID-19 jabs.

“The clinics for staff continue until next weekend. We estimate that over 2,500 staff have received vaccines at the clinic or in the community clinics that have occurred prior to or simultaneously with this clinic,” Kevin Kaardal, Central Okanagan schools superintendent, said in an email.

“We understand that more staff are scheduled this weekend and during the age-based clinics in the coming weeks. As the choice to get vaccinated is a private one we can only estimate the numbers.”

Kaardal pointed out that while the vaccines add another layer of safety for staff, they take a few weeks to be fully effective and the district will continue to emphasize the importance of following its layered safety plans.

That said, since last Friday, April 30, there has been a downturn in exposures at schools.

“We hope this trend continues,” he said. “It was a quiet weekend.”

The COVID-19 vaccination program was extended to Central Okanagan teachers in recent days, allowing teachers over the age of 30 to get a shot of AstraZeneca and those under 30 and pregnant Pfizer. Other districts within Interior Health have yet to have the vaccine program roll out to them.

Susan Bauhart, president of Central Okanagan Teachers' Association, said the program was a great success and a huge relief to her fellow teachers. The only lingering question is how the many teachers and school staff who have been told to go into isolation after an exposure notice will get their shots.

“Teachers are relieved, finally that the vaccine is here because it was going crazy in our schools,” Bauhart said.

“At one point we had more than 20 schools in the Central Okanagan on Interior Health exposure list — so it was getting a little crazy. Teachers have been on edge, the anxiety has been high, without question, and they have a reason to be.”

Every rule that applied to everything outside of schools, didn’t apply to schools and that has continually been frustrating to those who are working in classroom settings.

“If you have three people in your business and they have COVID, the businesses shut down,” she said. “Schools are kept open at all costs. Everywhere else had masks, and people had to keep their distance, except at  schools. There were just so many things that didn’t jive.”

That, she said, was stressful for teachers, administrators and everyone in the school system.

“We don’t want to close schools, we just want everyone to be safe,” she said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has always contended that schools are the safest place to be.

"COVID-19 cases in schools reflects what’s going on in the community around them," she said April 14. "Most of the cases in the school setting were acquired outside the school and there was little transmission within the school itself."

One study was done in the Vancouver Coastal health region last fall where there were 699 cases out of 124,000 staff and students with 77 per cent of those being students. That was less than one per cent of the total cases in the health region and a much lower rate of infections in schools than in the general community. 

Only 55 cases seem to have been transmitted within the schools themselves, meaning most got the disease at home or in the community.

When transmission occurs within the school, it is usually limited to one or two additional cases, Dr. Henry's briefing notes said.

The other study was done this year up to spring break in the Fraser Health region. It showed similar results but 80 per cent of the cases were students.

Case rates increase when school was not in session over the winter and spring breaks, Dr. Henry said.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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