Early childhood educators need to be added to the priority list, says preschool chair
'We're putting a lot of lives and our economy at risk,' says Faisal Alimohd
While many teachers are now eligible to get a vaccine, early childhood educators have been left off the priority list.
"With our children not being able to get vaccinated, it's critical for teachers to get vaccinated," Faisal Alimohd, board chair of Building Brains Early Learning Centre in Saskatchewan, told CBC's Saskatoon Morning.
"We need to have our early childhood educators vaccinated in the next roll out," he said. "We have to cut the transmission. Without doing that, we're putting a lot of lives and our economy at risk."
Early childhood educators work mainly with children under the age of five.
Alimohd says the majority of the early learning centre's staff are between 20 and 35 years old and therefore unable to get a vaccine yet.
"Our early childhood educators have been on the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic and are in close contact with children indoors for a long period of time," Alimohd said.
"They're in such close contact that they do things like feeding, cleaning, toileting, and there's so much emotional work that they're doing with the children. They're in constant close contact, more than I would say elementary, junior high or high school teachers are."
Alimohd said the stress educators have been under for the past 14 months has been immense.
"We don't know when a carrier may or may not come in," he said.
"At any given time, a teacher can get a call from the health authority to let them know that they've been in close contact. We may not be able to come to work for the next two weeks. It's a very emotionally draining thing for the teachers to be a part of."
He said they have had outbreaks at some of their facilities and that has meant quarantining cohorts for 14 days.
"Which means the parents must take time off work, whether they're working or working from home, and they have to take care of their children now who are now homebound for the next two weeks," Alimohd said.
He wants the province to make it a priority to get these teachers vaccinated as soon as possible.
"We feel we're fundamental to not only the city but to our parents to ensure that they're able to work and our children are still getting educated," Alimohd said.
"The more we can do to help prevent the transmission of COVID and stop that, I think we can do our part in helping the city get back on its feet and the economy get back going."
With files from Saskatoon Morning