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STF calls for schools to move online after spring holiday break, cites increase in COVID cases

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is calling on the Saskatchewan Government to move all students across the province to online learning temporarily, citing an increase in COVID cases.

The organization wants schools to move to Level 4, or online, learning for a two-week period following the upcoming break week. This means all schools would transition to online, mandatory learning from Monday, April 12 through Friday, April 23.

STF President Patrick Maze says they are concerned about an increase of cases, and a two-week period would be a protective buffer for students, teachers and ultimately the community should people gather or travel during the break.

Maze also noted that the increases were not just in areas being affected by COVID variants like Regina or Moose Jaw. The STF says their review of publicly available data from the Government of Saskatchewan shows:

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  • 90 outbreaks declared in schools between March 15 and 28, with 78 between March 20 and 28 alone.
  • During the week of March 15 and 19, there was an average of 2.4 outbreaks declared. 8.7 declared on average per day since (up to March 28).
  • Regina Public Schools and Regina Catholic School Division have declared 36 outbreaks since March 15.
  • Over half of Saskatchewan school divisions declared outbreaks between March 15 and 28.
  • This data shows only known cases and therefore there are more unknown cases in the community.
  • An outbreak is two or more cases in a setting where the transmission cannot be attributed to a secondary location, such as a household.

Maze notes that in-person learning is always preferred, but by setting this up now, it’s an early and proactive step that allows students and teachers to prepare for a safe and orderly transition.

The STF also adds that employers, including small businesses, also have an opportunity to plan ahead for staffing needs and minimize the negative impact of staffing challenges if parents had to stay home with their kids.

They also reiterated a previous call to use all available tools, including rapid testing in schools, to help protect students, teachers, school staff and our communities by limiting the spread of COVID-19.

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