Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools has not decided if it will require all its staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The district has not yet made a decision on a staff vaccination mandate,” Dale Burgos, NLPS’s director of communications, privacy and community engagement said in an Oct. 28 email. “It is following the Ministry of Education’s K to 12 sector guidelines for vaccination policies. We are in early stages of the process.”
On Oct. 22, the Ministry of Education released a nine-page set of guidelines for the K to 12 sector on vaccination policies that “provide a roadmap to enable school boards to make an informed decision on a mandatory vaccination policy,” a news release from the ministry says.
The guidelines were developed by the ministry and an advisory committee with representation from the BC School Trustees Association, the BC Teachers’ Federation, CUPE, the First Nations Education Steering Committee, the Federation of Independent Schools Association and school district leadership associations.
BCTF has released preliminary results of a member survey conducted from Sept. 22 to Oct. 11 that they say indicates 94 per cent of teachers are fully vaccinated and that 82 per cent of B.C. teachers support a province-wide vaccine mandate for all adults working in schools.
“Any vaccine mandate in K to 12 must be province-wide, a district by district patchwork approach does not make sense,” BCTF president Teri Mooring said in an Oct. 26 press release.
“Education partners have agreed that there is value in having a coordinated approach to implementing such policies so as to avoid highly variable health and safety standards in schools and other K to 12 workplace settings,” the guidelines say. The current K to 12 statutory framework places the decision for a vaccine policy on a board/authority, they say.
Jeremy Inscho, president of Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said the district should “think carefully if it’s necessary” to have a vaccination mandate, highlighting the BCTF survey and expects the Nanaimo teacher vaccination rate is higher than the B.C. average.
“How much impact is a mandate is really gonna have – arguably very little,” Inscho told the Sounder.
If the school district chooses to require vaccination, the NDTA will be watching to see it is “a fair and reasonable process,” Inscho said.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder