New recommendations from the Saskatchewan government offer suggestions, but not enforceable rules, for helping return to normal life; including guidelines for the upcoming school year.
In a news release Friday, the province reiterates its same message: get vaccinated.
“New COVID cases in Saskatchewan and serious outcomes from those cases are now overwhelmingly among unvaccinated individuals,” the release reads.
With back to school around the corner, the province set out guidelines for Saskatchewan school divisions.
For children under 12, and unvaccinated teachers and staff, it recommends masking up in common spaces like hallways, lunch rooms, libraries, school buses and washrooms.
However, it said it’s alright to remove masks once students are seated in their classrooms. It said it has no recommendation for students to wear masks while outside for recess or other outdoor activities like gym.
While COVID-19 vaccines are not approved for children under 12-years-old, the province said anyone born in 2009 is now eligible for the vaccine, no matter when their birth date is.
Vaccine clinics will also be set up at schools, similar to clinics temporarily set up at the end of the last school year.
In a news release Friday, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation wrote opening up vaccines to those turning 12 this year is a good first step, but not enough.
“With less than two weeks until students return to school this creates more questions than answers,” wrote president Patrick Maze.
He said these recommendations put school divisions and principals in charge of making and enforcing decisions around masking, something he said is the province’s responsibility.
“Students have a right to a safe learning environment and staff to a safe working environment,” he wrote.
“Mandatory vaccines and masking are proven to help provide that environment.”
Earlier this week, the STF called on the province to make vaccines mandatory for all eligible students and staff, among other measures.
On top of regular testing and contact tracing, the province said it is developing a rapid test self-administration pilot.
“(This will) gauge the demand and uptake for self-administered rapid tests for families who may wish to screen for COVID-19 on an ongoing basis,” the news release reads.
Rapid tests, along with instructions on how to self-administer one, will be distributed to families through their schools. The province said the pilot will be sent to areas of Saskatchewan with higher COVID-19 transmission rates.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Ministry of Heath said they are establishing a COVID-19 vaccinated plan, including guidance on booster shots when information is available “including whether booster vaccines will be delivered annually or as otherwise recommended, much like the annual flu shot,” the release said.