Procedure outlining SD68’s coronavirus vaccine mandate expected next month

Procedure outlining SD68's coronavirus vaccine mandate expected next month
Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools vaccine mandate policy will likely be ready by the end of spring break, officials say. (CHEK News photo)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools vaccine mandate policy will likely be ready by the end of spring break, officials say.

The school district announced it would implement a vaccine mandate for its 2,300 staff back on Jan. 21 following a special board of education meeting that took place the evening before.

The mandate, which will cover all staff on the school district’s payroll, including TTOCs, will take some time to implement; first, senior staff will finalize an administrative procedure (AP) that will outline how staff will share their vaccination status.

The administrative procedure guidelines will likely take effect the first week back from spring break, March 28,

Dale Burgos, NLPS director of communications, told the Gabriola Sounder that staff who have not confirmed they are fully vaccinated will need to take a rapid antigen test twice weekly.

How long those testing requirements will stay in effect has yet to be determined. However the draft AP states the procedure will be in effect through June 30, 2022, subject to review and extension.

“We know through our conversations in the district and looking at some of the data there’s a high vaccinated population in our staff population,” Burgos said.

On Jan. 20, the province announced 200,000 rapid antigen tests would be distributed to school districts as well as independent and First Nations schools for use by staff, teachers and administrators who have symptoms of COVID-19. Those tests are coming from Burnaby-based Artron Laboratories Inc.

Burgos confirmed NLPS will be receiving enough tests to give to staff exhibiting symptoms as well as twice-weekly testing for staff who are unvaccinated or have not disclosed their status, when that requirement comes into effect, but did not have an exact number of tests that will be arriving.

In a news release, the province said the number of teaching and non-teaching staff will determine the number of tests received.

Decisions around vaccine mandates vary around the province.

A week before NLPS announced a vaccine mandate, Delta School District announced it would require its staff to be vaccinated within a six-week timeline or undergo testing in order to continue working. In the Fall, the Cowichan Valley school board voted against implementing a mandate.

The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation still wants to see a province-wide mandate for schools.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Gabriola Sounder via The Canadian Press

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