Posts Tagged "School"

24Jun

Latest on campus with the University of Saskatchewan | Watch News Videos Online

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School’s wrapping up on campus at the University of Saskatchewan, but what’s the plan for this fall? USask President Peter Stoicheff joins Global News Morning with the latest.

17Jun

‘Out of hand’ grad prank leaves school halls in a sticky mess — and students facing charges | CBC News

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Police in Nelson, B.C., say a group of high school students could be facing criminal charges following a graduation prank late Sunday that caused thousands of dollars in damage — and left the interior of the area’s only high school a sprawling, sticky mess of foodstuffs, glitter and dye.

The prank inside L.V. Rogers Secondary School “got out of hand” late June 13, the Nelson Police Department said in a written statement Thursday, resulting in vandalism to two entire floors and the basement, including classrooms and the staff lounge.

Classes had to be cancelled on Monday due to the damage and it took about 40 parents, teachers and janitorial staff from across the district the entire day to clean up, according to Staff Sgt. Brian Weber.

“Upwards of quite a few dozen eggs, ketchup, mustard, shaving cream, glitter, food dye — those were the kind of things that were spread throughout two whole floors of the school,” Weber said Thursday.

Some of the students allegedly involved could now be facing criminal charges of break and enter and mischief over $5,000.

“That’s a pretty big dollar sign when you’re looking at young folks. You certainly don’t want to look to charges as your first option, but they are there as a possibility,” Weber said.

A washroom doused in what appears to be shaving cream. (Submitted by Nelson Police Department)

He said charges will depend on the outcome of what he called “very full, frank interviews” with about 20 students and their parents about what took place on Sunday. 

Four students were arrested and released, and charges are still being considered against some of those Weber called “instigators.”

“It’s always disappointing when we see wanton destruction,” he said.

17Jun

COVID-19 update for June 17: B.C. government to provide update on back to school planning | Health officials plan for managing virus in future | 113 new cases, four deaths

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for June 17, 2021.

We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS

As of the latest figures given on June 16:• Total number of confirmed cases: 146,674 (1,454 active cases)
• New cases since June 15: 113
• Total deaths: 1,738 (4 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 134
• Intensive care: 41
• Total vaccinations: 4,165,142 doses administered; 710,847 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 143,449
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 4

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IN-DEPTH:COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021

COVID-19: Have you been exposed? Here are all B.C. public health alerts

COVID-19 at B.C. schools: Here are the school district exposure alerts

COVID-19: Avoid these hand sanitizers that are recalled in Canada

COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.

3 p.m. – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.

Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province.

9:30 a.m. – Education and health officials provide update on planning for back to school in fall

Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, Stephanie Higginson, president of the BC School Trustees Association, and Andrea Sinclair, president of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils provide an update on planning for back to school in September.

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6 a.m. – B.C. public health officials prepare to manage COVID-19 differently in the future

The future of COVID-19 could look a lot like seasonal flus or other common illnesses like measles or pneumonia, British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says.

Dr. Reka Gustafson said it’s hard to speculate on the longevity of COVID-19 but public health officials are preparing for a shift to more typical communicable disease management based on the characteristics and behaviour of the virus.

“We certainly wouldn’t be surprised if this virus turns into one of the circulating coronaviruses in the population. That would be our best bet at this point,” she said in an interview.

British Columbia entered the second stage of its reopening plan Tuesday after surpassing target rates for first-dose vaccinations amid a sharp decline in new cases. More restrictions are scheduled to be lifted on July 1 and the fourth and final stage of the reopening plan is slated to go into effect on Sept. 7, if that trajectory continues.

For the public, life should return to pre-pandemic norms of interaction in September if all goes as planned, Gustafson said, adding that she believes the plan is “very cautious and sensible.”

Behind the scenes, public health officials are anticipating a shift away from emergency pandemic management toward communicable disease control, she said. However, even as a more routine strategy replaces the all-hands-on-deck approach, Gustafson said it will involve many of the same tools: testing, surveillance, case and contact management, and immunization strategies.

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-The Canadian Press

12 a.m. – B.C. reports 113 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says there are 1,320 active cases of COVID-19 in the community with 134 being treated in hospital, including 41 in intensive care.

Henry reported 113 new cases on Wednesday and four deaths – bringing that total to 1,738 since the pandemic was declared in March, 2020. COVID-19 cases, active cases and hospitalizations are all falling.

Henry said B.C. had among the highest levels of dose one vaccination in the world. On Tuesday there were 62,237 doses administered across B.C., most of which (53,356) were second doses. There have now been 3,454,295 people in B.C. who have received at least one dose of vaccine, or 74.5 per cent of people aged 12 and over.

12 a.m. – Pandemic to last at least two years, says UK health official

COVID-19 variants will continue to emerge and “we will not be through this pandemic until the whole world has the ability to get vaccinated,” Susan Hopkins, deputy director of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, said at a House of Commons science committee meeting.

“And that realistically is two years away.”

“And until that, where we get some level of control over everything, we will continue to see variants emerge, we will continue to run behind as we try and understand this, and we will get to a position of stability, where we are with … seasonal influenza.

– Bloomberg

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B.C. MAP OF WEEKLY COVID CASE COUNTS, VACCINATION RATES

Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

–with files from The Canadian Press

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14Jun

Catholic order that staffed Kamloops residential school refuses to share records families seek | CBC News

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The order of nuns that taught at the former Kamloops residential school, and others in B.C., continues to withhold important documents that could help tell the story of how Indigenous children died at the schools over the last 150 years.

The Sisters of St. Ann has never approved the release of relevant government records — documents that could relate to deaths at the schools —  according to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the religious order.

“It might be because there were things that weren’t relevant to the school system or names of those students, as well as other people like visitors,” said Sister Marie Zarowny, a St. Ann spokesperson. 

She also said the sisters have provided some documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about the residential school system, but is unwilling to share some records outlining internal workings of the congregation, as well as what is called the school “narrative.”

“What is in those documents, why can’t I have access to them?” said Bronwyn Shoush, whose father attended St. Mary’s residential school in Mission, B.C.

Like Kamloops, it was also staffed by the Sisters of St. Ann and administered by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Seven of her father’s nine siblings lay buried in the residential school cemetery. The children were all in marked graves that have since fallen into disrepair, she says. Yet she knows very little about how they came to die at school. Her father told her one sibling was killed in what he was told was an accident — falling on a pitchfork. Another died suddenly and others from Illness, but Shoush has few other details.

The National Student Memorial Register lists 21 children as having died at St. Mary’s, but to add to the confusion, none of her aunts or uncles are named.  

“The longer it’s locked up and held or destroyed or held in secret, the more you’re likely to be very suspicious,” Shoush said. 

The St. Mary’s residential school cemetery in Mission, B.C., where school children as well as nuns and the institution’s administrators are buried. (Submitted by Bronwyn Shoush)

It also goes against the Truth and Reconciliation mandate as set up by the Indian Residential School Settlement agreement. 

“This is a concern and remains inconsistent with the actions of the vast majority of other signatories to the Settlement Agreement,” reads a statement from Stephanie Scott, executive director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. 

‘Turn over these records immediately”

The Royal B.C. Museum that houses St. Ann’s private archival collection has appealed to the nuns to “provide better accessibility of these records to the public — but particularly to Indigenous communities whose members attended residential schools.”

Researchers can access the archives by appointment, but some have noted it’s not always easy to do so. 

The B.C. government also called on Sister of St. Ann, imploring them “to turn over these records immediately.”

In the order’s defence, Zarowny said St. Ann wanted to be able to fix history inaccuracies before documents were made public.

But Ry Moran, who guided the creation the TRC’s national archive says having a hodgepodge of the records conceals more important truths.

“The biggest inaccuracy is that kids’ own names were robbed from them and replaced with Christian Western names,” Moran said.

St. Mary’s residential school cemetery. The National Student Memorial Register names 21 children who died at the school, but none of Bronwyn’s relatives are listed on it. (Submitted by Bronwyn Shoush)

“We’re going back and figuring out what names, lands, territories, identities and villages were actually stolen from kids in the first place.”

The sisters taught at a St. Mary’s, Kamloops, Kuper Island and Lower Post Indian residential schools where children experienced rampant physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

Records can be forced by law

St. Ann is not the only entity to refuse to hand over the documents.  

Father Ken Thorson of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate told the CBC that his congregation would not be providing personnel files of the staff at the residential schools citing privacy laws. 

Those could include disciplinary records of nuns who treated children poorly.

But the TRC’s mandate outlines that “In cases where privacy interests of an individual exist, and subject to and in compliance with applicable privacy legislation and access to information legislation, researchers for the Commission shall have access to the documents.”

And it’s not just churches who have refused to give up residential school documents. 

The federal government has been in court as early as 2020 trying to block the creation of statistical reports on residential school abuse claims.

The Supreme Court of Canada also ruled in 2017 that thousands of records documenting abuse at residential schools should be destroyed.  

In a statement, a spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations said, “As per the terms of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, Canada was obligated to disclose all relevant documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

It added “the courts have consistently found that Canada has met its document disclosure obligations and that no further action is required.”

Still, those at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation disagree. 

“The federal government and provincial governments also have not shared all the records they agreed to provide to the NCTR. We continue to negotiate acquisition of further records from many settler organizations — both religious and governmental,” the statement read.  

For those like Shoush who want information about how her relatives died, it could take years of fighting just to find the truth.

 

 

 

 

13Jun

Death record and resting place found for Musqueam man Fraser Thomas, who escaped St. Paul’s Indian Residential School

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Thomas was listed as “cannot be located” in 1947 residential school records. He died in 1980 from alcoholism after surviving seven years in the institution.

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Twelve-year-old Musqueam boy Fraser Philip Thomas escaped from a personal hell when he didn’t return to the St. Paul’s Indian Residential School in North Vancouver in 1946.

Sadly, he could only run so far from what he experienced in six years at the Catholic-run facility and died of chronic alcoholism in Vancouver in 1980 — according to records unearthed over the weekend.

Last Thursday, Musqueam First Nation Chief Wayne Sparrow put out a call for information after learning Thomas was listed as “cannot be located” — according to The Sisters of the Child Jesus records for January 1947 that were handed over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Thomas — born April 20, 1934 — was admitted to the facility in September 1940 at the request of his aunt. Thomas’ mother had died and his father was not involved. He was six at the time, 41 inches tall, weighed 38 pounds, spoke English and was in good health.

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According to school records (located by Pierre Sabourin) Thomas was a good student with perfect attendance until he failed to return from summer vacation in the fall of 1946. He was listed as missing in January 1947 and discharged the same month with a Grade 4 education and “manual training.”

Thomas’ death certificate states he died on March 11, 1980, aged 45 from chronic alcoholism. It said he was divorced, lived in Vancouver and was a manual labourer. He is buried in the Musqueam cemetery, not far from where Chief Sparrow put out his call last week. The death certificate was found by Vancouver researcher Christine Hagemoen.

Registration of Death certificate for Fraser Philip Thomas
Registration of Death certificate for Fraser Philip Thomas

Lila Wallace, 71, was among the last students to attend the St. Paul’s facility, entering for one year at age seven and leaving in 1958 (the school closed the following year).

While most of the 2,000 children who attended were from the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil Waututh First Nations, Wallace was from the Lil’wat Nation at Mount Currie.

“My personal stuff is so hard to talk about,” Wallace told Postmedia News. “But the day to day life of living in residential school was every day is the same. The nun claps her hands, wakes you up. You roll out of bed and go on your knees and say a prayer. You line up to go to the washroom, then you make your bed, then you line up to go to the chapel. Then you line up to go to breakfast, then line up to go to class. After school, even at seven, we had to go to the sewing room. Every day.”

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Wallace said female students were made to embroider their student number — hers was 38 — on all their clothing.

“That wasn’t easy for me, at seven,” she said.

Wallace witnessed violence against students and had her own deeply personal experiences that were recorded as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Last week’s Postmedia News story also reported St. Paul’s records stating 12-year-old Winona George from the Burrard band (now the Tsleil-Waututh Nation) could not be located in 1943.

Subsequent records show George started at the school at age seven at the request of her father Henry George. She weighed 50 pounds, stood 4’6″, spoke English and was in good health. She did not return to the school because, according to the records “mother deserted home, took girl away with her.”

Page from the St. Paul’s Indian Residential School’s fourth-quarter report for 1946 that shows Fraser Thomas cannot be located.
Page from the St. Paul’s Indian Residential School’s fourth-quarter report for 1946 that shows Fraser Thomas cannot be located.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com

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25May

North Vancouver school board apologizes for trustee’s ‘insensitive’ comments

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Cyndi Gerlach compared the treatment of mentally disabled children in the school system to the treatment experience by Indigenous youth in residential schools

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The North Vancouver school district has issued an apology to First Nations communities along with students, parents and staff for “highly inappropriate and insensitive” remarks made by a trustee at a recent school board meeting.

According to the North Shore News, trustee Cyndi Gerlach, in a discussion about so-called seclusion rooms, compared the treatment of intellectually disabled children in the school system to the treatment experienced by Indigenous youth in former residential schools.

“The comments were unacceptable, highly inappropriate, and insensitive, and are not representative of the collective Board of Education,” SD44 board chair George Tsiakos wrote in a letter to the chiefs, councils and members of the ​Skwxwú7mesh, Tsleil-Waututh and Métis Nations. “I would like to offer my most sincere apology to not only members of the Skwxwú7mesh, Tsleil-Waututh, and Métis Nations but also, specifically, the Indigenous students, educators, and staff who contribute so much to our school district community.”

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Seclusion rooms are spaces where students with behavioural or developmental issues are involuntarily confined to prevent them from harming themselves and others.

“There is reconciliation that also needs to happen within the disability world when it comes to education,” Gerlach said during the meeting.

She said many of the schools where children with intellectual disabilities were historically sent were “actually residential schools.”

“They went to secluded schools where they were educated only amongst themselves,” she said, adding that what happened to them in those schools was “the same that happened to Indigenous students” in residential schools.

Tsiakos said Gerlach, who he didn’t identify in the letter, was deeply remorseful for her choice of words and would offer a public apology at the next board meeting on June 22.

North Vancouver school district Supt. Mark Pearmain said Gerlach’s comments left those in attendance at the May 18 board meeting feeling “hurt and troubled.”

“We are proud of the relationship we have developed with Indigenous rights holders and community members, and we highly value and rely on this relationship as we continue on our journey of truth and reconciliation. We also acknowledge we have much work to do,” Pearmain said in a letter to students, staff and parents.

17May

COVID-19: School kids over 12 can be registered for a vaccine starting this week, says Surrey Schools boss

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“It means we can look toward not only a summer that looks much more normal, but a fall that is a return to life just as we once knew it,” says Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney

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Parents of school kids aged 12 and over will be able to register to have them vaccinated against COVID-19 this week, according to Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney.

On Monday, Tinney released a video to parents providing an update on COVID-19 in his school district and letting them know that provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was recommending Pfizer vaccinations for anyone over the age of 12.

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“Please look for information mid week on how to register your child to be vaccinated should you wish them to be,” Tinney said.

“The goal we are hearing as a province is to have all students vaccinated by June 30. With that they hope that by August 30 everyone will have their second dose.

“That’s game-changing information for us as a province and a school district. It also means we can look toward not only a summer that looks much more normal, but a fall that is a return to life just as we once knew it.”

Tinney said that mass vaccination of most Surrey Schools staff had led to a drop in the number of staff becoming infected with COVID-19.

“In the first 10 days of May we had seven adults reporting positive tests, and since May 11 there has only been two, including four days where no one reported positive with COVID-19,” he said. “Clearly the vaccines are working.”

There were 14 COVID-19 deaths reported in B.C. over the past three days and 1,360 new cases. Of those who died, 12 were aged 60 to 90, while one was in their 50s and the other in their 40s.

Of the 5,021 active cases of the disease in B.C., 350 are being treated in hospital including 132 in intensive care.

All key COVID-19 metrics are on the decline in B.C. as vaccination ramps up. Anyone aged 18 and over can register themselves for a vaccine at any time.

Henry said that as of Sunday 2,528,398 doses of vaccine have been administered — including 130,023 second doses. That means around three per cent of B.C.’s adult population are fully vaccinated, while more than half the population aged 18 and over had received at least one dose.

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However, Henry has given no timeline, or set of metrics, that might lead to a relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I expect this virus will be here for years, but how it impacts us will be very different than what’s happening right now,” she said.

“We will go to it being a virus that causes sporadic outbreaks, maybe in long-term care homes, maybe in schools, maybe in congregate settings when we come together, but most people will be protected through immunization so we won’t have the same effects of hospitalizations and deaths that we’ve seen this past year.

“But there may be times when people will need to stay home from school or work, they’ll need to wear masks in certain situations, we’ll need to make sure we have rapid testing available to detect if somebody is sick.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that when we get to the immunization levels that we need to protect those most at risk in the next few months and get second doses in people, that we will not be in a pandemic anymore.”

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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13May

COVID-19: Nursing school applications on rise, but B.C. doesn’t have spaces, staff to teach them all

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Nursing schools and nurses union says there are not enough nurses being graduated to replace those retiring. And faculty are among those aging out of the profession, leaving fewer to teach

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B.C.’s nursing schools can’t keep up with the demand from prospective students, with applications up more than 30 per cent at the UBC and BCIT nursing schools over the past year.

UBC’s nursing program had a 31 per cent increase in applications for the undergraduate program and 50 per cent more applicants for their postgraduate programs over the last year, said Elizabeth Saewyc, the program’s director. That meant 860 applications for the 120 seats for the next yearly intake in September, with more than 500 already having completed the application process, that is they have submitted all necessary documents and admission requirements, Saewyc said.

Creating space for more students would require more faculty, Saewyc said, and there are more PhD nurses and others who are qualified to teach retiring than are being replaced by new qualified teachers.

“There is a global nursing shortage,” said Shelley Fraser, associate dean of BCIT’s nursing school. “We’re expecting a lot of faculty to retire over the next three to five years.”

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BCIT has had an increase in applications for its 64 seats each year and it continues to graduate nurses, including 14 that graduated last week and an estimated 50 more expected to graduate this summer, she said. But the school accepts on average just one in four applicants because of limited capacity.

COVID-19 has caused some interruptions to clinical placements, the in-hospital practicum sessions that make up part of the students’ training and education. When an outbreak restricts staff movements at a hospital, a student’s practicum could be moved online or to a simulated clinical experience, said Fraser.

First-term nursing students at BCIT learn health assessment skills at the Burnaby campus on May 13, 2021.
First-term nursing students at BCIT learn health assessment skills at the Burnaby campus on May 13, 2021. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

There are more than a dozen post-secondary institutions in B.C. offering degrees and courses in nursing.

There are 60,000 nurses, including licensed graduate nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, registered nurses with certified practicum, registered psychiatric nurses, as well as employed student nurses and employed student psychiatric nurses, and midwives in B.C., according to the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives. Statista.com, a website providing statistics on nursing, put the number of nurses in B.C. in 2019 at 38,000.

The B.C. Nurses’ Union, which represents more than 48,000 professional nurses and allied health care workers, said the government’s own data says the province needs 23,000 more nurses by 2029 and are not graduating enough to meet that.

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Fraser and Saewyc estimated 1,300 to 1,400 nurses graduate each year in B.C.

Christine Sorensen, president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union, said about 40 per cent of her members will be in a position to retire in the next 10 years.

The challenges of working during COVID is taking a toll on nurses, many of whom are taking sick leave, long-term disability leaves and showing early signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, said Sorensen.

For instance, 38 per cent of nurses reported moderate to severe anxiety in a June 2020 UBC psychological health and safety survey, up from 28 per cent from the same survey in October 2019, said Sorensen.

And 41 per of nurses reported moderate to severe depression, up from 31 pre-COVID. About 60 per cent reported high emotional exhaustion, a key marker for burnout, up from 56 per cent pre-COVID. About 47 per cent met or exceeded the screening cutoff for PTSD, roughly the same as 48 per cent pre-COVID, according to the survey. And eight per cent of respondents reported considering suicide, compared to a 2.5 per cent national average, in 2020, she said.

Sorensen said the increased number of applications to nursing schools is exciting, but she worried some may be attracted to nursing because of an “idealized and heroic” depiction in fictionalized portrayals.

In reality, nurses face a heavy workload and sometimes violence on the job. But she said it’s a career that offers a “wonderful ability to connect with humanity” and is pandemic-proof.

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The province needs to develop a human resources plan that focuses on recruitment and retention and factors in the aging population and the need to prepare students for the “nursing of the future,” Sorensen said.

The Advanced Education Ministry said the government is adding the 500 new seats to nursing schools that was pledged in 2018-19. That represents a 25 per cent increase to the 2,000-plus seats offered every year by nursing programs at various B.C. public post-secondary institutions, it said.

“I am only aware of the new nursing school in Fort St. John for RNs, which was to be 32 seats but is now only 16, (beginning) this September,” Sorensen responded.

There were additional specialty education seats added through collective bargaining, which are at BCIT, but this pulls from nurses currently in practice to take on these roles,” she said.

“The question is always: What are the net new nursing seats for entry-level practitioners?” she said.


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Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

12May

The latest on campus with the University of Saskatchewan | Watch News Videos Online

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University of Saskatchewan President Peter Stoicheff joins Global News Morning with the latest at the USask campus, including an update on planning for how students will be learning this fall.

5May

COVID-19: B.C. to offer Pfizer vaccine to kids 12 and up, possibly before end of school year

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B.C. health officials are working on a plan after Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in kids 12 and up.

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B.C. kids aged 12 and older could receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of the school year, according to health officials.

Following Health Canada’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for use in children as young as 12, B.C. will integrate them into the province’s vaccine rollout, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday.

“We’re working on how do we do that and how do we do it in the most efficient way possible,” she said. “There’s lots of possibilities including making sure we can get that done prior to June.”

Henry said kids aged 12 and older could be fully immunized with two doses before the next school year, although younger children may have to wait until the end of the year because clinical trials for those ages are still ongoing.

Asked about vaccinating students at schools, Henry said B.C. is looking at how to vaccinate kids most efficiently.

“The good news is we have a lot of vaccines. If all goes as planned in the next few months, so between May and June, we will have quite a lot of vaccines, so we should be able to fit this into our program, and still reach that goal of having at least first doses into the entire population by the end of June,” she said.

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There are about 300,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 in B.C.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said the news comes as a “big relief” to teachers.

“I hope the plans include going to school sites to start vaccinating,” she said.

Mooring also wants to see the province’s the vaccination program for essential workers, like teachers, sped up so teacher have their second doses before September.

On Wednesday, Health Canada said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can now be given to kids as young as 12, making Canada the first country to authorize its use for children 12 and older. The vaccine was previously authorized for anyone 16 and older.

A trial of more than 2,200 youth in that age group in the United States recorded no cases of COVID-19 among vaccinated kids. The trial used the same size doses, and the same two-doses requirement, as the vaccine for adults.

Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said the evidence shows the vaccine is safe and effective for adolescents.

Sharma said about one-fifth of all cases of COVID-19 in Canada have occurred in children and teenagers, and having a vaccine for them is a critical part of Canada’s plan.

She said while most kids don’t experience serious illness from COVID-19, protecting them with a vaccine also helps protect their friends and family, who may be at higher risk of complications.

“It will also support the return to a more normal life for our children, who have had such a hard time over the past year,” she said.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company expects to have data on trials in kids between two and 11 years old in time to apply for authorization in the United States in September. The company has generally applied to Canada for approval around the same time.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expects to authorize the vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds next week.

More to come …

With files by the Canadian Press and Katie DeRosa

gluymes@postmedia.com

twitter.com/glendaluymes

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