Monday, October 25, 2021

Province of British Columbia provides "roadmap' but leaves decision on vaccine mandates in hands of School Boards

The Province of British Columbia is going to leave the decision to introduce and enforce COVID vaccination mandates in the hands of local School Board officials.

The Ministry of Education provided for their roadmap for those officials with a late Friday afternoon information release that charts the path ahead for School Districts, Independent Schools and their employees when it comes COVID vaccinations.

“From the beginning of the pandemic we have worked together – to keep students safely learning in-class, to encourage all eligible British Columbians to get vaccinated and to make sure school safety plans are robust and supported. With guidelines now available, trustees can make decisions around vaccination policies that work best for their communities as we work together to continue to support a culture of vaccination in our schools.” -- Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education.

As the Minister of Education explains it:

The guidelines provide a roadmap to enable school boards to make an informed decision on a mandatory vaccination policy and help school boards to ensure that the continued delivery of safe in-person education is a top priority. 

The Ministry of Education will continue working with school boards to ensure they have the tools, resources and information they need to support this process. 

These guidelines build on the existing K-12 health and safety measures including daily health checks, hand washing, staying home when sick, masks for all students and staff and improved ventilation systems.

The guidelines for School Districts were put together from discussions with Ministry officials and a range of stakeholders and can be reviewed here.

The Ministry of Education statement can be examined here.

Premier John Horgan spoke of the topic earlier this month and at that time was adamant that the issue was one for local elected school officials to address, the follow up guidance of Friday seeming to come from his view of how the topic should be moved forward.

So far the topic has not made for any discussion in the pubic portions of the two Board meetings hosted by SD52 officials, or as part of the School District COVID plan that was announced at the start of the school year.

The topic is also one that so far has not been noted through the SD52 information page on the District website.

The PRDTU which represents teachers in the public school system in Prince Rupert addressed its concerns towards Health and Safety themes related to COVID earlier this month, though while making mention of the availability of vaccines, the union did not make mention of a call for a vaccine mandate for school employees at that time.

The Province of British Columbia put in place a vaccine mandate for public service employees in early October, those working for the BC government will have to be fully vaccinated for COVID by November 22nd.

More notes on Education across the Northwest can be explored here.

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