OTTAWA – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) wants to see COVID-19 health measures put in place in classrooms for when kids go back to school in the coming days.
The CMA says governments and public health authorities need to step up vaccination efforts to get more people immunized to help protect those who cannot get the shot, like kids under 12.
And since a large chunk of school kids won’t be able to get vaccinated, the CMA is urging politicians and school boards to reintroduce COVID-19 safety measures, like masking and social distancing rules, to help protect kids and teachers in classrooms.
It says leaders need to do all they can to ensure schools are safe and to prevent COVID-related closures.
“Keeping kids in school is essential for development, mental health, and well-being,” said CMA President and pediatrician Dr. Katharine Smart.
“We need to prioritize the safety and wellness of children, especially those who can’t be vaccinated yet.”
The group says after a year of virtual learning, kids’ mental and physical health have suffered.
On top of encouraging everyone to get vaccinated, the CMA also recommends making class sizes smaller to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
The association says over six million people over the age of 12 remain unvaccinated.
“This is just a recipe for disaster as the delta variant is picking up,” said Smart.
The CMA also wants to see more government money be allocated to supporting schools as they navigate this fourth wave of COVID-19.
Some school boards, including the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District, have already implemented measures.
Meanwhile, the Rocky View School District announced Thursday that many of the pandemic protocols that were in place last fall are no longer in effect, including masking.
“I think it’s very concerning,” said Smart. “I think this is the problem, when there is a lack of clear leadership, and you’re leaving these decisions to individuals, you get an inconsistent approach across the province. That is very concerning for parents.”
Ontario has directed all school boards to come up with a vaccination policy for staff to be either fully vaccinated or regularly tested.
The Toronto District School Board announced it would be requiring its staff, board members, trustees, and visitors to be vaccinated.
B.C. is requiring masks for all students in grade 4 and up, as well as for all teachers and staff.
Several universities across the country have implemented vaccine rules, and many of those that haven’t made vaccination mandatory have testing and masking rules in place on campus.
Some schools, secondary and post-secondary, are implementing vaccine campaigns and clinics on their campuses.
For more on back to school and COVID-19, head to our special coverage page.