As Saskatchewan continues to fight against rising COVID-19 case numbers, those working in childcare have been concerned with both the safety and quality of care for the children they work with.
Currently, all Regina Public and Catholic schools have temporarily been moved to online learning due to the growing case numbers within classrooms. This begs the question of whether or not it is wise to continue the before and after school program in addition to keeping elementary schools open.
“There is the fact that a good chunk of elementary-aged students are not yet fully vaccinated, so having them switch to virtual, temporarily would be a good idea in my opinion because they are more at risk,” said Micah Valencia, the YMCA before and after school program coordinator at Henry Janzen elementary school.
Health Canada has recently approved a Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine for children aged 5-11.
While many are still concerned, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe explained that it is unlikely to see any change to the current list of restrictions.
“Omicron is spreading across Canada and spreading around the world regardless of the public health measures that are in place, which is why we have chosen to avoid increasing those public health measures and increasing the policies surrounding lockdowns here in Saskatchewan,” stated Moe in a press conference on Monday.
Moe elaborated on his recent personal experience with COVID-19, stating that he had very few symptoms and felt “quite good” during his time with the virus.
“We live with other diseases in our communities and in our province that are also ongoing concerns,” Moe said.
“We do this without locking down, without taking people’s freedoms, and without disrupting everyone’s life. We need to get to that point with COVID-19.”
Chelsea Merk, another program coordinator for the before and after school program shared her thoughts on the government’s role in child safety. “I feel as though the government is trying their hardest to keep the kids and staff as safe as they can while still allowing school to continue in person. It is important for us workers to follow the regulations set in place.”
Valencia expressed concern a few months ago regarding the quality of care that children are receiving. This concern has still not gone away
“Children are very sensitive people and so they love to interact through touch and so personally, I think COVID has impacted my job because it definitely creates a barrier in our relationships with the kids we work with,” said Valencia.
According to Valencia, some of the children she works with are vaccinated however, this does not eliminate all the danger of possible COVID-19 exposure. While there could be more restrictions placed by the government, Valencia explains that there is still a lot of responsibility for everyone to do their part.
“The end goal is to be able to get back to our normal lives as much as possible, so I want childcare workers to all do their individual parts to help us and the kids get back to normal.” said Valencia.