The Superintendent of the Grande Prairie Public School Division is grateful to see teachers and all other education support staff get on the list for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility. Premier Jason Kenney announced Monday that the provincial vaccine rollout will now include all Alberta teachers, school support staff, and childcare workers with appointments opening up to people in those groups Tuesday.

Sandy McDonald says the news was a relief, as they have been advocating for such a move for months.

“In the middle of the winter, our board actually wrote a letter requesting teachers be advanced up in the priority queue for vaccinations,” he says. “Vaccinations on their own don’t make a difference in the short run, ​but in the long run, the quicker we can get those staff who are interested in receiving vaccinations… the quicker we can provide, I hope, some added measure of comfort for staff.”

McDonald says knowing what’s happening with COVID-19 case counts, including a recently rising number of outbreaks and alerts declared at regional schools, the news will be welcomed with relief.

“Our staff has done a fantastic job, all year, adapting to what the pandemic created for them,” he says. “They’ve done a fantastic job at supporting our schools to be safe places, school learning, and family wellness through a crazy year.”

Support staff includes bus drivers, education assistants, and custodians, among others. The province says upwards of 100,000 teachers, support staff, and childcare workers will now be eligible for the vaccine with the expansion.