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Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation says members should avoid extracurricular activity

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation says members should avoid extracurricular activity
WATCH: STF president Patrick Maze said with the long gap since students have been in the classroom over COVID-19 fears, it's most important for teachers to focus on learning and safety.

The union for Saskatchewan teachers is advising its members not to volunteer for extracurricular activities such as sports.

Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF), said those activities undermine efforts to keep students safe.

Read more: Saskatchewan summer camps say they need help before next year

Those efforts include controlling the size of groups students move in, restricting travel and staggering class start times.

“If students are intermingling through extracurricular activities … then you end up undoing all of that good work that the cohorting or the timetabling has done,” Maze said.

Deciding whether or not to proceed with such activities this school year has been left to each school division.

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Teacher participation in extracurricular activities is strictly voluntary.

Read more: Saskatchewan provides guidelines to deal with positive coronavirus tests at schools

Maze said with the long gap since students have been in the classroom over COVID-19 fears, it’s most important for teachers to focus on learning and safety.

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“We want to put a first priority on health and a second priority on academics,” he explained.

“Teachers will be busy identifying where those gaps are and potentially teaching parts of lessons that students didn’t grasp or didn’t have access to because they weren’t in face-to-face instruction (for over five months).”

He said that will allow everyone to adjust to the protective measures the school divisions have put in place.

Arthur Nemetz graduated from Bishop James Mahoney High School in Saskatoon in 2018. During his time there he was involved in football, golf, badminton and wrestling.

He said he doesn’t envy students in this position.

“That would have been so devastating, especially if it would have been halfway through the season,” he said. “That would have been absolutely soul-crushing.”

Maze said the STF will be looking to the province’s chief medical health officer for guidance as to when to resume extracurricular activities.

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-With files from Global’s Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi

Low community spread key to keeping COVID-19 out of Saskatchewan schools
Low community spread key to keeping COVID-19 out of Saskatchewan schools

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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