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Vaccination status disclosure still coming for school district employees: SD8

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
March 15th, 2022

Despite a relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions across the province late last week the deadline for school district staff to submit proof of vaccination remains in place.

On Thursday, March 10 a spokesperson for School District No. 8 confirmed that the April 11 deadline for disclosure — directed by the Interior Health medical health officer, Karin Goodison — would stand.

“Employees who are unvaccinated or who failed to disclose their vaccination status by March 1 will be required to undergo regular rapid testing to continue working or take an extraordinary leave of absence (unpaid),” noted the directive from SD8.

“Rapid testing and unpaid leaves related to being unvaccinated won’t begin until this administrative procedure is finalized on April 11.”

As well, independent contractors who are unvaccinated or who fail to disclose their vaccination status by the deadline will be required to undergo regular rapid testing to continue working on site, noted the directive from the school district.

“Anyone who does not provide that proof will be deemed to be unvaccinated,” read a March 8 district staff agenda report to the board.

The proof of vaccine requirement will not apply to students.

On Friday, March 11, B.C.’s indoor mask order was repealed along with eased restrictions on long-term care visitors, faith gatherings and overnight camps for children and youth, along with the pathway set to lift additional COVID-19 restrictions, including the BC Vaccine Card requiring proof of vaccination, on April 8.       

An extension of the school district disclosure deadline — announced by SD8 superintendent of schools Trish Smillie on March 4 — hinted disclosure might not be necessary,

“This one-month extension will allow the board (of trustees) time to consider evolving COVID-19 data and changes to public health directives,” she wrote in the release at the time.

Guidelines for child care and kindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms and schools are being revised, though the updated guidelines for schools won’t take effect until after spring break.

• SD8 proof of vaccination administrative procedure can be found at:

https://www.sd8.bc.ca/sites/default/files/Vaccination%20Disclosure%20Administrative%20Procedure%20FAQs%20220304.pdf

Post pandemic?

• On March 18, long-term care visitation rules will be relaxed and returned to where guidelines were before Omicron.

• As of April 8 the province’s vaccination card program was no longer required at various businesses or facilities, and businesses will move from a COVID-19 safety plan to a communicable disease plan.

• The vaccination requirement at university dorms was also lifted as of April 8.

• Schools will not require proof of vaccination for school-led gatherings and events.

• Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that dropping the mask mandate did not mean masks would disappear entirely from all venues — they will still be required in some high-risk settings.

Getting here

During the Jan. 18 board of education meeting, the board passed a resolution that directed the superintendent to create and implement a proof of vaccination procedure for all staff and independent contractors.

As a result, school district staff consulted with employee union representatives, the district’s joint health and safety committee, parents, the Aboriginal Committee on Education and the Lower Kootenay Band.

“The procedure will require SD8 staff and independent contractors to provide proof of vaccination to the employer unless they are legally entitled to accommodation for medical reasons or under the Human Rights Code of British Columbia or Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms,” noted the staff report in the board agenda, March 8.

“The procedure will ensure the school district’s privacy obligations are met during the collection of employee information.”

As part of the procedure the school district will keep a record of each staff member’s vaccination status.

Prevention remains

Some previous prevention measures already in place throughout the school district to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading will remain.

Some of those measures include doing a daily health check and staying home when sick, cleaning hands regularly, and all students from kindergarten to Grade 12 and visitors wearing masks except in specific circumstances.

As well, students will no longer need to stagger start and stop times, or recess and snack, lunch and class transition times, maximize space between people during classes, or spread multiple class gatherings such as exams, and physical education classes, across multiple locations and spaces.

“For school gatherings and events that bring together multiple classes or other groupings of students — school assemblies, multiple classes doing a single activity — from the same school (but members of the school community beyond staff, students and necessary volunteers are not attending), we will no longer have a specific capacity limit,” noted a release from SD8.

“For school extracurricular and social gatherings and events that bring together members of the school community beyond staff, students and necessary volunteers — an arts club performance, community fair — or that occur between schools — a music festival, a sports game or tournament — indoor capacity will not exceed 50 people or 50 per cent of operating capacity (whichever is greater).”

Spectators — parents, caregivers, peers — may now be present for gatherings and events within capacity limits.

Source: School District No. 8

Categories: General

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