Dr. Henry nudging northern, Interior communities to adopt vaccine mandates for schools
School districts in northern and Interior B.C. communities are now being encouraged to implement vaccine mandates for staff due to high COVID-19 case counts.
“This week in the Interior there have been three outbreaks in schools, so yes, we are very supportive of mandates in those areas, particularly because of the risk in that community right now,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters on Tuesday.
But B.C. School Trustees Association president Stephanie Higginson said school boards also have to consider staffing levels and a lack of resources before deciding whether to adopt any mandates.
“What impact will this have on staffing levels and the ability to provide educational programming? Losing two per cent of staff would be a big deal,” she said.
The document includes recommendations on collecting data, aligning health orders, human resources policies and collective agreements, as well as researching how to protect against legal challenges and ensuring they have enough staff “in the event that a significant number of staff require accommodations, alternative measures, or are placed on leave without pay.”
So far, no school district in B.C. has opted for a vaccine mandate for staff. School districts in Vancouver, Surrey , New Westminster and Abbotsford are among those that have decided against such mandates.
“They have weighed the risk of implementing (a vaccine mandate) against the ability to offer educational programming,” said Higginson. “Both Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health have told them that they don’t see that a vaccine mandate would have a substantial impact on the safety of the schools.”