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Province's nurses back teachers demands for safe school reopening

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario wants the province to mandate vaccination not only for healthcare professionals but teachers too.

"We took our advocacy one step further to ensure the Ontario government is doing what it must to prepare for the safe reopening of schools," said a release from the RNAO, a professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. "In six weeks, children and youth will return to the classroom. Vaccination rates across the province are promising. However, the reality is that our schools will house the largest group of unvaccinated people in congregate settings."

Vaccines are still not being offered to children under the age of 12.

Many of the recommendations the RNAO is making to the province mirror those from teachers' unions, including better ventilation in schools, mandatory masking indoors, and smaller class sizes.

The association is also calling for permanent employment status for the 625 public health nurses working in schools and the 50 community wellness nurses serving on First Nations.

"We must do all we can to avoid the harmful effects of an inevitable fourth wave," continued the release. "We can do this by urging science-informed measures."

The letter to Premier Doug Ford went out the same day five top health officials in Windsor-Essex called on the community to improve its vaccination rate.

As of Wednesday, over 65 per cent of the region's population was fully vaccinated, but over 39,000 people needed to get their second dose, and thousands more still have not been vaccinated at all.

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