Still no rapid-testing in Sask. schools; division and school staff conducting contact-tracing
REGINA – Today, the Official Opposition is joining the call by Saskatchewan teachers for the Premier to keep his commitment to expand rapid testing and immediately deploy rapid tests to schools experiencing outbreaks in communities across the province. With upwards of 70% of new COVID-19 cases in the Regina area suspected Variants of Concern (VoC) and 67 school outbreaks in just the last two weeks, time is of the essence.
“Last month the premier talked a big game on expanding rapid-testing to schools, but despite rashes of outbreaks in schools across the province, rapid testing still has not been rolled out to help keep kids and school staff safe. Let’s call it what it is. This is a complete abdication of leadership by Premier Moe and his government,” said Carla Beck, Official Opposition Critic for Education.
Over the last few weeks, outbreaks have occurred at numerous schools across the province. Of concern is the recent wave of COVID variants, which have been detected in schools in Saskatoon, Yorkton and is widely suspected to be the prevalent strain in Regina schools, in spite of the government doing its best to keep the public in the dark. Without proper testing and contact tracing, the scale of the problem is going undetected, and this government is flying blind in the face of more transmissible and acute variants.
“Safe Schools Saskatchewan is currently very concerned about the discrepancy in reported COVID case numbers, especially of VOCs, from school divisions versus those from the SHA, as it is impossible to draw any conclusions from these wildly different numbers,” said Margi Corbett, spokesperson for Safe Schools Saskatchewan. “If the government isn’t conducting COVID testing within our schools, how can they claim that they are doing everything possible to keep our schools safe? The government’s biggest priority must be the safety of our staff and students.”
“Schools are making the calls on whether or not to move to online learning, not this government. Principals and superintendents are being stretched thin conducting contact-tracing within their schools with limited resources,” said Beck. “It’s clear, despite herculean efforts, our schools aren’t equipped to manage COVID-19 variants. They need support and they need it now.”
The Official Opposition is demanding that the Sask. Party government immediately deploy rapid-testing to schools, particularly the Regina area, and deploy public health support to relieve school and division staff of contact tracing responsibilities as they manage a situation rapidly spiralling out of control.