Medicine Hat Public Schools, Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education and Prairie Rose Public Schools representing school jurisdictions in Medicine Hat and surrounding areas in southeast Alberta have collaborated to request government prioritize school-based staff, as essential workers, to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
Together, the three boards strongly encourage the Alberta government to immediately offer vaccinations to school staff. Alberta’s schools have been expected to operate at 100% capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, posing unavoidable increased health risks for staff who do not have the option to work from home. While our schools vigilantly follow the public health guidelines, our education K-12 facilities are the most densely populated buildings throughout the school day. Given this circumstance, our staff deserve the opportunity to access an extra layer of protection vaccines provide.
Based on the province’s current vaccination roll out plan, it is estimated that approximately 30-35% of school staff, unless they are immune compromised, will not get vaccinated until after the end of June. We are deeply concerned that school-based staff have not been prioritized for vaccinations. Providing the COVID-19 vaccination will minimize significant costs associated with staff replacement and help to avoid disruption to student learning. Additionally, with no approved vaccine for those under the age of 16, staff vaccinations would provide additional protection for all students and their families.
School-based staff play a vital role in providing high quality education to students, as such, deserve to be protected by the COVID-19 vaccination. Further, keeping schools open Is one of the key elements of maintaining the economy of the communities we serve. Having children in school facilitates parents being able to go to work and keeps business flowing. We strongly urge the government of Alberta to take action immediately and prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for school-based staff.