At its March 28 board meeting, School District 8 paused its planned proof of vaccination requirement for teachers until further notice.
The board first decided proof of vaccination would be required as of March 11, later extending this deadline to April 11. After that date, teachers would have had to be regularly tested or go on unpaid leave.
But now the deadline has been put on hold. The board made its decision in a private meeting, so the details of its deliberations are not public.
“This decision allows our board more time to consider evolving COVID-19 data and changes to public health directives expected in the coming days and weeks,” said board chair Lenora Trenaman.
Superintendent Trish Smillie told the Nelson Star that the decision was made in anticipation of the removal of the province’s vaccine card program as of April 8, and in light of Ministry of Education’s recent removal of its mask requirement for schools.
“There have been a number of shifts, and other shifts anticipated, moving into April related to health orders like the removal of the vaccine card. And so I think it’s considering all of those factors that led the board to make this decision.”
Smillie said it is impossible to say how many employees would have been affected by the planned vaccination requirement, adding that about 80 per cent of teachers in SD8 have disclosed their vaccine status to the board.
The paused vaccine requirement for teachers could be activated in the future or removed entirely.
“The board of education makes that decision,” Smillie said. “They are watching and listening to health information and information from the British Columbia Employers Association, who provide a good deal of information to the board on this.
“Those agencies updating some of their guidelines would trigger a new discussion.”
Asked how not requiring teachers to be vaccinated would protect the safety of immunocompromised students, Smillie said, “There’s options for different types of programming for students, if they’re not able to be in our building or need to have different types of learning to meet their needs.”
As for immunocompromised teachers, Smillie said the schools follow “appropriate guidelines to accommodate them, or to be on leave.”