Around a dozen people picketed the Boundary school district’s office in Grand Forks Tuesday morning, Sept. 7.
Tuesday’s demonstration marked kids’ first day back at School District 51’s (SD 51’s) 11 schools, coming less than a week after protests against B.C’s latest pandemic initiatives erupted across the province.
Standing across from the school board office at 1200 Central Ave, Grand Forks teacher Lisa Sipponen said: “We’re here today to protest mandatory masks and vaccine clinics in schools.”
Sipponen said she took a leave of absence because she disagrees with SD 51’s policy on face-masks.
On the other side of Central Avenue, Grand Forks’ Anna Leksinska said she’d come to protest governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially policies that encourage COVID-19 vaccination in children 12 and over.
She is presently homeschooling three of her children in Grades 1, 6 and 7.
Protesters were met by People’s Party candidate Sean Taylor, who hopes to win the riding of South Okanagan – West Kootenay in this month’s federal election. He said he opposes the government’s vaccination policy.
Surges in COVID-19 cases in the Grand Forks local health area in June and July were associated with viral clusters among students at Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS), the Interior Health Authority’s (IH’s) Karin Goodison told The Gazette earlier this summer.
IH is offering vaccine clinics at Grand Forks’ Walker Development Centre from 2 to 4 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 9 and at GFSS from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, according to the health authority. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for kids in B.C. between 12 and 17, according to ImmunizeBC.
An online statement by the organization grants that COVID-19 doesn’t hit most young people as hard as people in higher age groups. The statement then explains that immunizing young people helps to lower the virus’s spread among older people, who are more likely to be hospitalized after they become infected.
No one from IH was available for comment when The Gazette filed this story. District Superintendent Anna Lautard wrote in an email Tuesday evening that, “SD 51 is working with Interior Health so all staff and families who want a COVID-19 vaccination are able to access a clinic.”