The last year and a half in many schools across Alberta have been brutal.
“There was a lot of cases, a lot of people were becoming infected and that was shifting people to having to work online, back in school,” Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling said.
Dr. Tehseen Ladha said schools have been a driver for community transmission of COVID-19.
“School is one of those situations where there are so many children in one space sharing air in one space for hours and hours a day,” Ladha said.
But with Health Canada’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages five to 11, there is optimism for what’s left of this school year.
AHS encouraging parents to register children for COVID-19 vaccination
“What I think we will see is that roller-coaster that we had last year with concern of COVID cases and schools going online or being online for a week or a class having to go online, we might not see a lot of that turmoil or that disruption through the course of the remainder of this school year,” Schilling said.
Schilling said that could help with learning and said teachers are excited about that.
“If we can get the majority of school-aged children vaccinated, we’re looking at a scenario where there would be markedly decreased transmission in schools and fewer outbreaks,” Ladha said.
Schilling said schools could be used as vaccination sites, but right now, the province said it has no plans for a school rollout.
Health Canada approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11
With vaccines expected to be available in Alberta next week, University of Waterloo associate professor of pharmacy Kelly Grindrod said education is key for parents and kids.
“It’s important to talk to the kids about why do we get vaccines and what’s the importance of vaccines and what kind of conditions are we protecting against because it helps them understand this broader role in public health and what plays in our lives,” Grindrod said.
For children scared of needles or pain, Grindrod said parents can use distractions like headphones and Netflix or a book. There are also numbing patches.
“It’s a really exciting time for kids to potentially get back to some sort of normalcy and even fewer school interruptions,” Ladha said.
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