School board trustee wonders why teachers are not a priority for COVID vaccines

By Kirk Winter

Board negotiates deal with area high school teachers
"School staff are frontline workers and unfortunately the health units and the ministry do not see it that way."

As far as trustee Gary Brohman is concerned, staff working in Trillium Lakelands District School Board schools are essential workers and he cannot understand why the province has not made the vaccination of teachers, administrators and support staff a priority.

At the recent school board meeting, Brohman advocated forcefully for staff vaccines to be safe against the threat of COVID-19.

“This has been on my mind for a long time,” Brohman said. “The ministry stand that staff vaccines will be given as soon as possible is not acceptable. How poor a statement is that? The vaccines could come too late. It could be summer. School staff are frontline workers and unfortunately the health units and the ministry do not see it that way. That is simply not good enough.”

Brohman asked his fellow trustees what they could do to make this issue a priority with the province. The Haliburton area trustee wondered why firefighters are receiving their vaccinations ahead of teachers “when educational staff are face to face with kids every day. These people should be getting their vaccinations now. ‘As soon as possible’ is not good enough. As a former educator this decision sucks.”

Deputy chair of the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, David Morrison, applauded Brohman’s intent.

“Educational workers are on the frontline every single day. The province holds up the school system as a very safe place to be while at the same time expressing caution about COVID variants of concern. This topic has been brought up with the minister (Education minister Stephen Lecce) on a weekly basis at our videoconferences. The minister says he is pushing for change ‘but a change will only come if supply increases,’” says Brohman.

Trustee Louise Clodd added, “We all feel the same way (regarding staff vaccines) and I would like to send a note to the Ontario Public School Board Association to have them continue pushing for this.”

The board asked Clodd to do that at the earliest possible opportunity.

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