Vaccination mandate likely for teachers and school staff although details of implementation are undecided

All signs point to a vaccination mandate for teachers and school staff in British Columbia, but details of how and who should implement it are still in question.

The province’s association of school trustees and the teachers’ federation both say they support a vaccination mandate to protect students and school staff, but they want the provincial government to order it.

The province said it was up to elected school trustees and BC’s 60 school districts to come up with their own vaccination mandates for school staff.

Teri Mooring, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation, noted that immunization rates are lower in parts of the province, such as the Peace region in the north, so administrators may face “a high level. reluctance “to demand that teachers be vaccinated. as a condition of employment.

“We might have a situation where the parts of the province that need mandates the most are the least likely to implement them,” Mooring said, adding that a patchwork approach could affect all unvaccinated teachers working in multiple areas. districts.

At a press conference Thursday, Premier John Horgan said vaccination warrants for BC school workers are a last resort and elected board trustees know what their communities need instead. than the province that implements such decisions.

WATCH: Prime Minister John Horgan speaks out on vaccine mandate for schools

“I think it will be done as soon as possible,” Horgan says of school staff vaccination mandate

BC Premier John Horgan says he is confident school districts will be heading towards a “very, very soon” mandate. 1:07

“We [have been] working with K-12 stakeholders to build trust and we need to make sure provincial school districts all have a say in how we do it, ”Horgan said.

His remarks came after the province announced on Tuesday that vaccination will be mandatory for thousands of British Columbia’s public service workers and visitors to many healthcare facilities, including long-term and assisted care. .

Calls for vaccination warrants for school staff are on the rise as new models show COVID-19 cases on the rise in children under 12 as the fourth wave of the pandemic continues.

Mooring said the teachers ‘union sent a letter to its 45,000 members Thursday night saying its leaders plan to meet with the BC Public School Employers’ Association and the Department of Education to ensure that a provincial mandate of vaccine would include a process to welcome teachers and protect their rights through grievances if necessary.

According to BC School Trustees Association president Stephanie Higginson, school boards were hoping to have a vaccination mandate in place for school workers by September.

Now, she says, they just want it to be in place ASAP.

BC School Trustees Association president Stephanie Higginson said the association has been asking the government for help since June on how to implement a school vaccination mandate. (Association of School Trustees of British Columbia)

“The details of how and what are… one of those fine details that we have to work out,” Higginson said on CBC Friday. The first edition. “We need to find out what support we have from the province… and we need to make sure we can do it quickly. “

Mooring, meanwhile, recommended that teachers and school staff get vaccinated, as the union may not be able to help them unless they have a legitimate exemption, if the province requires that they are vaccinated.

School counselors are not medical experts

Mission school board chairperson Tracy Loffler said she was not sure school trustees should be making decisions about immunization mandates.

“We are not doctors, we are not epidemiologists,” she said.

“Boards are well equipped to make decisions about student achievement… Should these people be making medical decisions?

Loffler says the board has been “very deliberate” to follow the orders and advice of public health officials and experts in the province, and is seeking more advice on whether to implement a mandate of vaccine for staff in the Mission district.

The mission is in the Fraser Valley region where new restrictions were recently announced after an increase in the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 – especially among those who are not vaccinated.

Meanwhile, an independent modeling group analyzing the pandemic in British Columbia says cases in children have risen sharply in the Fraser Valley, Interior and Vancouver Island health authority regions, because they represent almost half of the unvaccinated residents of the province.

He predicts that at least 20% of those under 12 will be infected with the COVID-19 virus within two years.

On Thursday, Horgan said he had been briefed by provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry that Health Canada would soon be reviewing vaccination plans for children aged five to 11 and officials are working on the logistics of delivery of these vaccines once approved.

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