Saskatchewan’s Minister of Education sent a letter to school divisions to clarify rules for extracurricular activities, saying COVID-19 vaccinations should not be required for students to participate.
The letter, from Minister of Education Dustin Duncan addressed to School Division Board Chairs, stated that based on the current health orders, all students are allowed to participate in extra curricular activities no matter their vaccination status.
“Schools and school operations in Saskatchewan, both curricular and extra-curricular, are not considered to be subject to proof of vaccination/ negative testing requirements in the current Public Health Order,” the letter reads.
Following Question Period on Wednesday, Duncan said he had heard concerns from residents about vaccinations being required for upcoming events at some schools.
“We just wanted to provide that clarity to the school divisions that that’s certainly the provincial government’s expectation, is that school divisions would not require students to have a vaccination to take part in school-based events,” Duncan said, Wednesday.
These activities and events include sports and arts activities.
The letter states that Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, provided this direction and supports the approach.
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation called the letter an “example of lack of leadership, minimal communication and mixed messaging,” in a tweet Wednesday.
“It has created further confusion in the sector and left school divisions and teachers scrambling to understand the implications of this new direction,” the STF said.
“The Minister of Education is impeding the ability and autonomy of boards of education to act based on local medical health officer recommendations to protect their students and staff.”
The STF noted that many extracurricular activities are supported by volunteer teachers and often involve students, staff and volunteers from multiple communities.
The letter said students are allowed to participate in school programming as long as they are asymptomatic and not under a self-isolation order due to testing positive for COVID-19, or being a close contact of a COVID-19 case.