The decision of whether or not to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for B.C. teachers and school staff will remain up to the province’s 60 elected boards, Premier John Horgan said Thursday amid growing calls for the province to implement a mandate.
Horgan said mandates for school staff are a “last resort” and elected board trustees know what’s best for their communities, as they directly employ teachers and other school staff.
“We are not the employer in this case. We are ready and able…if there’s any need for more information we will provide it,” said Horgan.
“There is a responsibility for elected representatives who put their hands up and said ‘I would like to be on the school board’ to inform themselves about the best way to protect their employees and the children in their district.”
.@jjhorgan pushes back on Q about why he doesn’t mandate vaccines for districts when BCgov negotiates teacher contracts. Horgan points out (correctly) the BCgov negotiates through a bargaining agent on behalf of districts. Though, also, the premier gets final say on any deals.
— Rob Shaw (@RobShaw_BC) October 7, 2021
The BC Public School Employers’ Association said in a statement it has been developing “a coordinated and collaborative approach” to mandatory vaccination policies with government officials, legal counsel and partners and would connect with school boards and districts over the coming days to discuss it.
Some in the education system say all teachers who can get vaccinated should have done it already.
“It would be really nice if we weren’t in a position where we had to think about this. If you work with children, particularly children in the unvaccinated age group, I believe you have a moral responsibility to go get vaccinated,” Stephanie Higginson, President of the BC School Trustees Association, told CHEK News Wednesday.
An independent group that analyzes the pandemic in B.C. has released new modelling saying cases among children rose steeply in the Fraser, Interior and Vancouver Island health authorities as they account for nearly half of the province’s unvaccinated residents.
The BC COVID Modelling Group’s report called case growth “highly volatile” and said it requires close monitoring, “ideally with data that is broken into finer age groups.”
It says COVID-19 infections among those under 12 are higher than at any other time in the pandemic and it predicts at least 20 per cent will have had the virus within two years.
Horgan says Health Canada is reviewing COVID-19 immunizations for children aged five to 11, and officials are working on the logistics of delivering those vaccines if and when that approval comes.
With files from The Canadian Press