NDP CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE VACCINES, TESTING, PPE AT POST-SECONDARY CAMPUSES AS NEW SEMESTER APPROACHES
EDMONTON – Post-secondary students across the province are worrying about returning to classrooms in September as the UCP recklessly removes all COVID-19 health measures, including testing, tracing, and isolating.
“Most students that I have consulted with want access to testing especially if they’re going to sit in lecture halls with hundreds of their peers,” said David Eggen, NDP Critic for Advanced Education. “They not only want this for themselves, but they want to take personal responsibility for not spreading the virus to others.”
On August 16, the UCP will stop all testing outside of hospitals for COVID-19, and will stop contact tracing of the virus.
Chloe Dizon is a student at the University of Alberta, and expressed concern on how quickly viruses can spread on a university campus.
“Without contact tracing for potential outbreaks, students may be pressured to continue their studies on campus while sick,” said Dizon. “This poses the risk for COVID-19 to spread across campus quickly, endangering students who are unable to get the vaccine or individuals who are immunocompromised.”
Noa Spivak, a fourth-year student at the University of Calgary worries that the decision by the UCP to roll back all COVID-19 protections will harm post-secondary students and staff as cases rapidly rise in the province. Spivak says students are being abandoned by the Kenney government.
“This move by the UCP shows a clear lack of remorse, empathy and any care for the post-secondary student and staff population of Alberta,” said Spivak. “It is extremely dangerous to return to campus with so few protections. I fear for my health, the safety and health of my friends and the broad community at the University of Calgary as the September start date approaches.
“The notion of being in a large class size is terrifying, and has led me to drop courses for my own safety. The spread of the delta variant will only be enhanced by a lack of protections on a busy university campus, and it’s scary to think that the UCP are willing to let that happen to thousands of people in the province who just want to learn.”
Currently, only 50.9 per cent of Albertans aged 20 – 24 have two doses of vaccine.
“We have a golden opportunity here to vaccinate large groups of the population at a place where they will be congregating,” said Eggen. “Let’s bring vaccines directly to the students.”
The Alberta NDP are calling on the UCP government to implement the following before the first day of classes in September:
Provide on-campus vaccination clinics at every post-secondary school in Alberta.
Ensure these clinics have the ability to provide testing for students, faculty and staff who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Invest $83 million for additional sanitization, cleaning staff, PPE and other necessary precautions for Alberta campuses.
“Students and staff are scared and confused,” said Eggen. “They’re eager to return to classes but they want to do so safely. “
These comments were echoed by University of Alberta student Daniela Mendoza, who said that testing should be available in school to help stop the virus in its tracks.
“I don’t want to be scared in class,” said Mendoza. “I want to be able to focus on my learning and enjoy my time at the U of A. I feel like that is being taken away from me when it doesn’t have to be.”