‘This is insanity’: teacher calls for crackdown after colleague gets COVID-19 Hanover educator says division pretends its situation normal
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This article was published 28/10/2021 (287 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A teaching colleague’s admission to hospital to be treated for COVID-19 has one educator in the Hanover School Division calling for a crackdown on restrictions in area schools.
“This is insanity. It’s like we’re pretending nothing is happening and we’re just continuing on as normal,” said an educator in Hanover, a health district in which less than 50 per cent of eligible residents are double-vaccinated.
Schools in the division are in the caution phase (code yellow) on the province’s pandemic response system, which indicates there are low to moderate levels of transmission and thus, public health measures in schools are limited.
Manitoba’s school dashboard shows there were 29 cases in Hanover schools in the 14 days leading up to Oct. 26. There are currently 281 active cases in the Southern Health region at large.
A rural teacher, who spoke to the Free Press on the condition of anonymity, however, suggests those figures are actually much higher since many students don’t seek testing when they experience symptoms.
“I send kids home regularly with COVID symptoms. There were seven kids missing from my class (on a recent school day)– that’s not normal, even during flu season. It’s running through town.” – Teacher
“I send kids home regularly with COVID symptoms. There were seven kids missing from my class (on a recent school day) — that’s not normal, even during flu season. It’s running through town,” said the teacher.
At the same time, they said unmasked sports games, youth gatherings, and church events continue to take place.
The educator, who has only become more concerned after learning a colleague in the division has become severely ill after contracting the virus, indicated they are confused about why Manitoba Health has yet to “step in” and introduce more safety measures.
The Neufeld family has been calling for prayers in recent days as a father, who works as a music teacher at Green Valley School in Grunthal, is in an intensive care unit in Brandon after becoming infected with COVID-19.
“They intubated him last night,” wrote Christina Neufeld, about her husband Vernon Neufeld’s condition in a public post on Facebook on Oct. 23. “We would so very much appreciate prayers for a quick and full recovery.”
Christina has provided frequent updates about his condition via social media. She confirmed Thursday her husband remains in the ICU, but did not respond to queries about vaccination status.
At least 11 cases of the virus have been identified at Green Valley School, dating back to the start of the academic year. The latest exposure, which community members were notified about on Oct. 24, indicates at least one case was present in the building on Oct. 12-14 when an individual may have been infectious.
“We are devastated to hear that one of our employees is in the hospital. Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with the individual and their family. Public health is closely monitoring the school and surrounding community,” said Shelley Amos, interim superintendent of the division, in a statement.
“We are devastated to hear that one of our employees is in the hospital. Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with the individual and their family.” – Shelley Amos, interim superintendent of Hanover School Division
Should public health officials determine a change is needed in the public response system code level or additional school-specific restrictions are needed, Amos said the division will communicate that information to caregivers and staff as quickly as possible.
Hanover board chairman Ron Falk said both students and staff are sent home if they show symptoms upon arriving at any school.
“We need to be vigilant and make sure that when we are not feeling well, we don’t associate with other people, that we take care of ourselves and we think of others when we’re sick,” said Falk, a trustee in Steinbach, adding he thinks most people follow the rules.
Falk said upwards of 100 staff members in the division are participating in the new frequent testing rule in lieu of providing proof of full immunization.
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.