Infection rate amongst youth a cause for concern

Rob Westfield, Chair, CUPE SK Education Workers’ Steering Committee

As an education support worker, and chair of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers’ Steering Committee, I am deeply concerned about the number of children in Saskatchewan that have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.

We all know that COVID-19 has turned the lives of our children upside down. We have told our kids they cannot hug their grandparents or play with their friends. Schools have shut down and re-opened, and children have had to adapt to online learning, physical distancing and other safety protocols.

But the greatest risk to our children isn’t the psychological impacts of lockdown – it is the very real consequences of contracting COVID-19, or even worse, losing family or friends to this disease.

From April 19 to May 2, 2021, there were 147 cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan schools covering both staff and students. The test positivity rate for this age bracket shows that nearly one in ten people under 19 have contracted the virus – even during a period that saw many students in remote learning.

Many people who have passed away from COVID-19 have left children behind, including two educators who have recently passed.

The last year has been incredibly challenging for all of us – especially education workers who have had to adapt to safety protocols and put their health on the line to give our children the quality education they deserve.

I know many people are eager to have restrictions eased and resume normal activities, but current transmission rates show we cannot stop now.

I urge everyone to follow COVID-19 safety protocols, and to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. We cannot let our guard down – failure to keep our children safe is not an option.

Rob Westfield
Chair, CUPE SK Education Workers’ Steering Committee

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