SD 23 waiting for more input before ruling on vax mandate

SD 23 vax decision unlikely

Don’t expect a decision on a vaccine mandate for teachers and other school employees to come out of tonight’s Central Okanagan School Board meeting.

"We know that getting immunized against COVID-19 is the most important safety measure people can take to protect themselves and those around them," said Moyra Baxter, chairperson for the SD23 Board of Education in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

"We also know that mandating vaccines for all staff carries many implications, so as a Board we must consider this important decision carefully and with a full knowledge of the potential consequences."

Baxter has already stated that trustees were surprised the Provincial Health Officer and BC Government left the decision to individual boards and didn’t introduce a Provincial Health Order like has been done with most other mandates.

Tomorrow (Oct.14), all board chairs from across the province will meet with the Ministry of Education to hear more about the provincial direction and health advice.

SD 23 Superintendent of Schools/CEO Kevin Kaardal is also compiling a report for the Board of Education, reviewing the implications of a vaccine mandate for staff.

"Since we provide governance for our district, we have a duty of responsibility to consider the rights of everyone in our district when making impactful decisions," said Baxter. "Our superintendent will develop a report to give us a comprehensive understanding of the effect a potential vaccine mandate could have on our district."

"As a Board, we continue to prioritize the safety of all staff and students. As we discuss and consider this significant decision, we will notify our community each step of the way."

During a news conference last week, Premier John Horgan was asked why local school trustees should have to make what is ultimately a medical decision.

“They are duly elected and they have a responsibility to their employees, first and foremost, and I would suggest that they can educate themselves with a simple phone call to [B.C.'s public health office] to get the details and data that they need to make informed decisions,” Horgan said.

“Minister [of Education Jennifer] Whiteside has got a team in place, and if there is any need for more information, we will provide it. But there is a responsibility for elected representatives, who have put their hand up and said 'I'd like to be on the school board,' to inform themselves about the best way to protect their employees and the children within their district.”

The province announced it would be requiring roughly 30,000 government employees to become fully vaccinated by Nov. 22. But this mandate was not extended to school staff.

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