The Revelstoke Board of Education has officially announced the implementation a proof of vaccination policy for all district employees and contractors working in Revelstoke schools to help protect the health and safety of both staff and students.
The board of education says this policy will require all employees to provide proof of full vaccination to their employer, and hope to implement it as early as Apr. 1, 2022.
According to Superintendent Mike Hooker, as of right now the school board defines fully vaccinated as two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Those who are unwilling or unable to do so will be provided with routine rapid testing, as often as three tests per week, as a condition of continued work.
Employees will be given the option to be placed on unpaid leave if unable to provide proof of vaccination or routine rapid tests.
The board of education’s proof of vaccine requirement will not apply to students.
“I think this is quite a momentous decision,” said Hooker.
The board of education has worked alongside the Ministry of Education, the BC Public School Employers’ Association, CUPE, and the BC Teachers’ Federation since before the Christmas break in order to create the framework for this new policy.
As of right now, the number of unvaccinated individuals employed in Revelstoke schools is unknown to the board of education, however, as of Jan. 11, Revelstoke leads Interior Health in vaccination numbers, with 94 per cent of individuals in the community having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’ve been in this pandemic for close to 2 years, and I personally believe that its on all of us to get out of this,” said Bill MacFarlane, chair of the Board of School Trustees. “I’m proud to be a part of a board that’s making this decision.”
According to Hooker, since Revelstoke school’s resumed session on Jan. 10, they have seen some increased absences among students, but not staff.
In Oct., the Ministry of Education convened an advisory committee to design guidelines for boards of education who choose to implement vaccination policies.
Across the province, the response has been mixed, with several school boards in the Interior choosing not to adopt the vaccine mandate, while others, including the Central Okanagan Board of Education, will consider implementing vaccine mandates for school district staff later this month.
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