A school district in B.C.’s southern Interior says all schools in its zone will be in lockdown mode, after COVID vaccine protesters entered three schools on Friday.
School District 83, which covers the North Okanagan and Shuswap regions, said protesters entered Ranchero Elementary, South Canoe Elementary and the Sullivan campus of Salmon Arm Secondary seeking to speak to the respective principals.
It’s believed each group of protesters numbered around 10, though it’s unknown if it was the same group that entered each school or if there were different groups.
A school district spokesperson told Global News that Friday’s encounters were preceded by other protests on Wednesday and Thursday.
The spokesperson said on Wednesday, approximately 15 protesters showed up at the school district office, wanting to speak to the superintendent. Talks with them lasted around two hours.
On Thursday, demonstrators returned to the office, this time during a pop-up vaccination clinic. Police were called, with the RCMP eventually dispersing them.
Video of that incident shows a peaceful scene, albeit during rainy weather. It also shows the protesters saying all they were looking for was answers to questions about children’s consent.
School board staff were sent home on Thursday and told to work from home on Friday.
The spokesperson said the protesters served the school board office and the three principals with a vaccine notice of liability.
B.C. vaccine passports and possible disruption
Following Friday’s protests, the school district sent a letter to parents, stating that starting Monday, all schools will be placed in lockdown. That means outside doors will be locked, and those wishing to enter will have to phone ahead for an appointment.
“This means that students will not be able to leave and enter the building,” the letter said.
“If at some point you are needing to get into your child’s school, please contact the office and the administration team will be able to assist you.”
The letter also said the district is working with the RCMP to make sure the protests are kept away from all district property.
Soon after, social media began lighting up, with people arguing back and forth about the school involvement.
Many of the social media comments shared the opinion that schools were not the proper place for such a protest.
Global News has reached out to the RCMP for more information.
It also contacted Interior Health regarding publishing the dates of pop-up clinics.
In response, the health agency said it will continue to directly notify the school community via the schools and district.
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