Published: September 17, 2021
A school district in B.C.’s southern Interior says all schools in its zone will be in lockdown mode on Monday, after COVID-19 vaccine protesters entered three schools on Friday and served a “notice of liability.”
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.
So my kids school is on lock down because protesters entered the schools today? Seriously? Protest all you want but pick the right place and where my child is learning is not it. #SalmonArm
— J-fur (@DueyDecimals) September 17, 2021
The encounters were preceded by others on Wednesday and Thursday, a district spokesperson told Global News.
On Wednesday, approximately 15 people showed up at the school district office wanting to speak to the superintendent, the spokesperson said. Talks with them lasted around two hours.
On Thursday, demonstrators returned during a pop-up vaccination clinic. Police were called and eventually dispersed them.
Video of that incident shows a peaceful scene during rainy weather, with those gathered saying they wanted answers to their questions on children’s consent to get vaccinated.
According to the province, those 13 and older “are given the opportunity to consent to immunization themselves.”
The protesters served the board office and three principals with a vaccine notice of liability, the spokesperson said.
Later on Friday, the school district sent a letter to parents to say that as of Monday, all schools will be placed on lockdown. 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.
In a brief statement released Friday night, Salmon Arm RCMP said they were called to two area schools after four protesters attended the schools.
“Protesters were met by a security guard at the school, asked to leave and were gone when police arrived,” said Salmon Arm RCMP.
“The protesters left without incident and the school followed their safety protocols and all students were safe.”
Soon after, social media lit up, with people arguing back and forth about the demonstrators going into the schools.
Many of the comments shared the opinion that schools were not the proper place for such a protest.
On Friday afternoon, B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, said “this is absolutely unacceptable. This is just a complete and utter disgrace.”
#Antivaxxer protests in #SalmonArm moved into multiple high schools – causing a “Hold & Secure” for all schools. This is NOT acceptable. Trying to intimidate teens from the #COVID19Vaccine. #bcpoli #BC #bced @keithbaldrey @richardzussman @cbcnewsbc https://t.co/e4lPwabiK0
— Carrie Mae Garber (@carriemae68) September 17, 2021