THUNDER BAY – The head of a local teacher’s union says teachers and education workers in Thunder Bay should all be vaccinated by the end of the weekend.
Mike Judge, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario’s Thunder Bay branch, on Thursday, said the Thunder Bay District Health Unit has set up a separate clinic for teachers and other school employees, adding that many who work with special needs students have already been vaccinated.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to have a separate booking system and an alternate site to get this done at,” Judge said.
“They’ve really gone out of their way to make this happen efficiently and quickly.”
The impact is enormous, he said.
Students and teachers are currently working from home, with in-person learning on indefinite pause across the province, a decision made last month by the Ontario government.
In Thunder Bay in-class instruction has been paused since March 1, when cases were starting to surge in the city.
Judge said the vast majority of his membership are looking forward to a return to somewhat normal conditions in the classroom.
“If you’re fully vaccinated, that’s certainly a comforting feeling. I can’t speak for everybody, there are always some one-offs, but the vast majority of my membership has indicated that when it’s safe, they really, really want to be back in classrooms,” Judge said.
The city’s two largest school boards last month indicated they were planning to offer at-home learning for at least the first semester of 2021-22, and the province this week announced funding would be provided with funding to keep remote learning going.
“We’re going to do our very best to make sure everybody’s in a position that we’re comfortable with and that they’re safe.”
Judge said it’s also good news that the federal government has given the OK for youth aged 12 to 15 to be inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine, noting it will provide an even larger layer of protection in the classroom.
Ontario on Thursday opened vaccination bookings to anyone 50 and older and essential workers, a group that includes school employees. It also opened appointments to those 18 and older in certain hot spot areas.