For the fourth day in a row, Saskatchewan has more than 400 new COVID-19 cases, and cases among kids are up across the province.
Among the 475 new cases Wednesday, 104 were kids under the age of 11, and 60 of them were among kids ages 12 to 19.
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation’s (STF) president, Patrick Maze, said teachers are frustrated with inconsistent policies for schools, leaving the province’s 27 school divisions to make rules for themselves.
“In some situations high school students have to wear masks, in some situations they don’t and it’s just really a patchwork approach,” Maze said.
“That really is not appropriate for a virus as significant as this is.”
The STF said it wants the province to step in and create universal rules for all schools, including mandatory masks.
“Doesn’t matter if that’s kindergarten all the way up to Grade 12, doesn’t matter if you’re double vaccinated, we need to make sure that our schools are safe places,” Maze said.
One health policy consultant said he agrees with mandatory masking for schools as cases among kids continue to rise.
“Many of the schools were just requiring masking in hallways and other common areas but not in the classroom,” said Dr. Dennis Kendel.
“I hear from some teachers that they have a lot of kids jammed in their classrooms, so I really think there ought to masks in the classroom as well.”
He added the Delta variant spreads quickly among children.
“I’ve talked to a pediatrician who pretty much likens it to the spread of smallpox. If one kid has got it in a room, probably many are gonna get it,” he said.
Dr. Cory Neudorf, Interim Senior Medical Health Officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said mandates need to extend outside of schools as well.
“Ultimately most of the transmission that’s happening in children is happening in the household setting,” he said.
Saskatchewan is continuing to see new records set for case numbers. Neudorf said the provincial government needs to focus on getting people vaccinated, and addressing the spread.
“What we need is more public health restrictions overall to get control of the COVID-19 situation in the community and that will in turn help the situation in the schools,” he said.
Meanwhile, STF said it wants the provincial government to mandate vaccines for anyone entering schools over 12.