INNISFAIL - The 12,000-student Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD) would be able to accommodate an in-school COVID-19 vaccination program should Alberta Health choose to implement one starting this fall, says superintendent Kurt Sacher.
“As a school division, like I would assume all school divisions, we are set up to support different vaccination plans that the government comes up with,” said Sacher.
“This would be no different if they have a vaccination strategy and they want schools to provide support for it, we would follow their lead. We would do it on the assumption that it is voluntary to families.”
Headquartered in Innisfail, CESD has supported in-school vaccination programs in the past, including for HPV, he said.
Asked if CESD is calling on the province to provide in-school vaccinations for students, he said, “Our commitment as a school division is that safety is always our top priority and Alberta Health is in the best position to make those kinds of decisions. They have that kind of expertise and we don’t.
“We are partners with Alberta Health in a number of areas. If it is in their interest and they need support and it’s optional for parents we are fully in line with that.”
The official Opposition is calling on the Kenney government to make voluntary COVID-19 vaccination clinics available in schools starting in September.
“We must do more to get these numbers up. We are concerned that with our rapid reopening many Albertans may assume one dose is enough. It’s not,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley.
“We’re seeking a commitment today to do the right thing for Alberta’s youth and we are happy to assist the government in any way to make this vaccination program a reality.”
About 36 per cent of Albertans aged 12 -14 have two COVID-19 vaccination shots, with that number rising to about 41 per cent among youth aged 14 -19, she said.
The opposition is calling for an in-school COVID-19 immunization program to be made available in every public, private, and charter school.
“The program would be opt-in, with parents choosing whether their child is vaccinated at school.”
Alberta Health spokesperson Steve Buick provided the following statement to The Albertan: “About 64 per cent of Albertans age 12-17 currently have at least one dose, a number that continues to increase. We encourage all parents with children 12-plus to get them vaccinated as soon as possible, and not to wait until September as the NDP is suggesting.”
Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills UCP MLA Nathan Cooper did not respond to a request for comment.