SURREY, B.C. -- Following months of pushing for improved safety measures in schools, teachers in Surrey are now being vaccinated agains
SURREY, B.C. — Following months of pushing for improved safety measures in schools, teachers in Surrey are now being vaccinated against COVID-19.
Beginning Wednesday, school-based employees in Surrey will be eligible for doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine the province has allocated for frontline workers.
“I’m very, very pleased,” says Julia MacRae, vice-president of the Surrey Teachers Association.
For now, it’s only school staff in Surrey who are being offered immunizations. Other school districts will likely get their shots next month.
“In Surrey, we’ve had hundreds, and hundreds of exposures of COVID. So, we think it’s correct for Surrey teachers to go first,” explains MacRae.
Staff at 10 high schools and their feeder elementary schools in the parts of Surrey with the highest community transmission are being immunized first.
The list of high schools and their feeder schools includes:
- LA Matheson
- Queen Elizabeth
- Kwantlen Park
- Enver Creek
- Panorama Ridge
- Sullivan Heights
- Frank Hurt
- Princess Margaret
- Fleetwood Park
Surrey School District Supt. Jordan Tinney says 9,000 school employees are eligible for the vaccine. In the next several days, they can expect to receive a letter in the mail with their vaccination appointment details.
“They will go to the vaccination site and start getting vaccinated. The capacity is about 400 for the first couple days, and then it ramps up to 1,500 shortly after that,” says Tinney.
The vaccinations will take place at Central City, in a vacant building previously occupied by Best Buy. The shots come at a time when the daily COVID case count is not decreasing, despite months of restrictions on events and gatherings.
While the expedited vaccine rollout is welcome news for the Surrey School District, which thought immunizations would begin next month, school employees who aren’t considered school-based do not qualify.
“Our teachers teaching on-call, our spare education assistants, people who go from school to school providing direct support to students, people like bus drivers. There are people not on the list right now, because they’re not officially school-based. Hopefully those people can be done shortly after,” says Tinney.
On March 18, more than 300,000 front-line workers across B.C. learned they were moving up the queue for vaccinations. Along with teachers, the list includes first-responders and grocery store staff. All are expected to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Despite Surrey school staff receiving the toughest protection against COVID-19, MacRae says teachers aren’t letting their guard down just yet.
“We want to ask parents to send their kids to school with masks. Just because teachers, administrators, educational assistants, and custodians will be vaccinated, it doesn’t mean we’re all safe from COVID,” she said. “We have three more months in the school year. We want people to be safe.”