UPDATE 8 p.m.
The Minister of Education is adding her thoughts on the actions of anti-vaccine protesters who entered a number of schools in Salmon Arm and forced lockdowns.
"It is completely unacceptable for people to protest outside of schools, to speak with other people’s children and to undermine the decisions they and their families have made regarding the vaccine," Jennifer Whiteside said in a statement sent to media.
"If people are unhappy about government policies, they should focus their dissatisfaction on the government – not at hospitals and not at schools."
Whiteside added that she applauds the work of school staff in Salmon Arm for taking quick action to ensure students and staff were safe.
"Ministry staff have offered any assistance that is needed to School District 83 and have been in regular communication with all school districts related to COVID guidelines and health measures, and any incidents involving protesters on school grounds.”
UPDATE 2 p.m.
The premier of BC has added his voice to the growing chorus of people condemning the actions of anti-vax protesters who entered schools in the Salmon Arm area Friday.
“You’d think we wouldn’t need to say this but - stay away from children! There is simply no justification for these actions,” John Horgan tweeted.
ORIGINAL 10 a.m.
The backlash is mounting against anti-vaccine protesters who entered a number of schools in Salmon Arm.
A letter sent to School District 83 parents Friday afternoon said protesters opposed to vaccinations and masks entered multiple schools, which prompted officials to place the buildings under a "hold and secure."
Friday, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth slammed those involved.
"This is absolutely unacceptable. This is just a complete and utter disgrace," he said. "The word 'Covidiot' doesn't even begin to describe how inappropriate the actions of these whack jobs is. It's unacceptable in the extreme."
Conservative MP Dan Albas also weighed in.
"This is disturbing and wrong on every level. Schools, like hospitals, are absolutely no place for this. My thoughts are with staff, students and parents who should never encounter these situations at an elementary school," Albas said in a Tweet Saturday morning.
Within minutes of the incidents coming to light, the Salmon Arm Rant and Rave Facebook page exploded with comments condemning the actions of protesters.
“Idiots at schools and hospitals. The kids going to school in there are more mature ugh. What's it going to be next? Nursing homes?” said one post.
“I don't usually post much...however I have something I want to say to the anti mask/anti vax protesters that rallied today. I support your choice, whether it aligns with mine or not I would still support your freedom to choose. However once you start doing crap like entering schools, scaring our kids, worrying them and the people we entrust with their care everyday you've crossed a line. After what you've done I couldn't care less about your freedom to choose... Don't mess with the kids! That's the fastest way to turn folks away from supporting you and your cause,” said another post.
The vast majority of comments blasted the protesters, but there were a few who attempted to justify the protesters' actions, which set off a flurry of online arguments.
School district officials said schools across Salmon Arm will be locking their doors starting Monday.
“Doors to all schools will remain locked," the district said. "We ask that you notify the school office if you require access to the building. SD83 will be working with the RCMP to ensure that these protests are kept from all district property. Please know that the intent of our actions is to maintain environments which are safe for all students and staff.”