Revelstoke school district to develop mandatory vaccination policy for staff

The new procedure is slated to be implemented in the beginning of April and will likely mean that school staff will be required to provide proof of vaccination, agree to regular COVID-19 testing, or be placed on unpaid leave.

File photo: Revelstoke Secondary School. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

A new mandatory proof of vaccination policy is currently in the works for the Revelstoke school district.

At its January District No. 19 school board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Mike Hooker presented the motion that passed on January 11 to implement a policy for all district employees and contractors working in Revelstoke schools.

The board is aiming to implement the procedure by the beginning of April of this year.

In a release, Hooker expressed that the board, “believes that everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated should do so and views this step as an enhancement to the health and safety measures that are helping maintain healthy school environments for students and staff.”

The motion passed on January 11 empowers Hooker to, “create, implement, and amend as necessary” a Proof of Vaccination Regarding COVID-19 Operations Procedure. 

The Board of Education will consult employee representatives, District Parent Advisory Council, Indigenous Education Advisory Committee, and other community partners in the development of the procedure. The procedure will ensure that accommodations are made for affected individuals with legitimate medical exemptions.

The procedure is meant to help protect the health and safety of both staff and students and is intended to be consistent with the K-12 Sector Guidelines for Vaccination Policies and the BC Public School Employers’ Association Template Operations Procedure.

The school board is basing this decision on a number of factors, including the fact that B.C. Public Health officials have been clear that vaccines are the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools and communities. A backgrounder included with the release from the school board details that boards of education have the ability as employers to set terms and conditions of employment and to create policies and procedures on a range of measures related to employee and workplace well-being and health and safety.

In October of last year, B.C.’s Ministry of Education worked in partnership with education employer and union representatives to design guidelines for boards of education who choose to implement vaccination policies. The District No. 19 school board will be basing the new procedure on these guidelines.

The resulting procedure will likely mean that K-12 employees will be required to provide their employer with proof of full vaccination or agree to routine rapid testing as a condition of continued work with the option to be placed on unpaid leave if they do not agree.

In October, previously reported on the district’s plans to create a policy.

Cara Smith is a freelance writer from Fredericton, New Brunswick. After studying English literature at St. Thomas University, Cara began writing for the Telegraph-Journal, the provincial daily newspaper in New Brunswick, then worked as a staff writer for Huddle, an online business news magazine.