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Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown calls for Peel educators to be vaccinated during 2-week school closure

In a series of tweets, the mayor said schools should remain open if teachers are vaccinated
April 7, 2021
Clarrie Feinstein
Brampton Guardian

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown called for schools to remain open and for teachers to get vaccinated, after Peel Public Health ordered schools in the region to close for two weeks starting April 6.

On April 5, Brown posted a series of tweets with the first calling for educators to get vaccinated and for elementary schools to remain open.

He then added that Amazon, processing plants, big box stores, and close crowded factories should be closed, but if the supply chain couldn’t handle the closure, then essential workers must be vaccinated.

“Same old approach isn’t working,” Brown said.

He then released another tweet saying, “If schools are being closed because they are a COVID-19 risk then why are we not vaccinating educators during this multi-week closure. Currently, they are slated for June. This makes no sense. Vaccinate educators NOW so that we can reopen schools.”

The Ontario COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan is currently in the second of three phases. Phase 2 began in April 2021 and will end in July 2021. Elementary and secondary school teachers are included in this phase but will likely not be vaccinated until June.

However, Brown added that Niagara will begin vaccinating their teachers in the Catholic school board.

“Educators will be vaccinated in Niagara but not in Peel,” he said. “I can’t justify that. I am calling on public health to use this two-week Peel school closure to vaccinate our teachers and support staff.”

In terms of prioritizing certain workplaces over age groups, Peel Public Health commented that with the majority of the region’s population living in “high-risk” neighbourhoods, moving “quickly” down the age brackets continues “to be the most effective and fastest way to ensure that we get this vital protection out to our community in the least amount of time."

Currently in Peel, those 60 and older are eligible to book an appointment to get vaccinated. Indigenous adults and those in their household, and active health-care workers and health-affiliated workers are also eligible.

The issue of vaccinating educators has been a priority for the president of the Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local (PETL) since COVID-19 doses began to be administered.

“Prioritizing education workers is important, they’re front-line workers and are at risk,” Gail Bannister-Clarke said. “Everyone agrees we need to keep schools open as the best place for learning is in a school. It’s what’s best for student mental health.”

Bannister-Clarke noted that outbreaks in schools have created a chaotic learning environment as classrooms will close for two-week periods of time, disrupting learning.

“This should have been a priority from the very beginning.”

The PETL president noted that Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s demands to keep schools open made education staff front-line workers.

With the two-week suspension of in-class learning, Brown and Ontario Liberal party leader Steven Del Duca are calling for teachers to be vaccinated during the April break, beginning next week.

“Schools closures have had an immense impact on parents, especially for those who don’t have paid leave. As well as educators who are parents as well,” Bannister-Clarke said. “The whole rollout has been horrible. We should have way more people vaccinated at this time, who choose to be, than we have. It’s a real concern poor planning has impacted everyone’s ability to get safe.”