The School District 83 board of trustees is urging employees not yet fully vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The School District 83 board of trustees is urging employees not yet fully vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

North Okanagan-Shuswap school board supports collection of employee vaccination status

School district would collect vaccination status if requested by Interior Health

School District 83 (SD83) employees not yet fully vaccinated are being urged to “do so as soon as possible” following the issuance of a Provincial Health Order regarding school staff vaccination status reporting.

According to the health order issued on Jan. 17, all school districts in B.C. must provide their staff’s COVID-19 vaccination status if asked by a medical health officer.

Currently, there are only three school boards that have made it mandatory for school staff to be vaccinated, including Delta, Revelstoke and Kootenay Lake (Nelson and Creston areas).

“A staff member must provide their employer with proof of vaccination on the request of their employer and by the date directed by their employer, and if the vaccination status of the staff member changes the staff member must provide this information and their vaccine card to their employer without delay, and the employer must update the record of the staff member’s vaccination status,” reads the order.

Following an in-camera meeting on Jan. 18, the SD83 board of trustees responded to the health order, stating if requested by Interior Health (IH), the school district will collect the vaccination status of employees.

“After careful consideration of the many factors involved in this extremely sensitive and highly complex issue, the board… believes that upon the direction of Interior Health, a proof of vaccination requirement is the right decision for employees within the North Okanagan-Shuswap,” board vice-chair Tennile Lachmuth commented on the board’s behalf in a Thursday, Jan. 20 media release.

According to the release, the in-camera meeting involved discussion around vaccine policy information and the public health order. After consideration, board agreed to direct school staff to proceed with the collection of staff vaccination status, once directed by IH, “to help protect the health and safety of both staff and students.”

“Public health continues to advise us of the need for unvaccinated people to get immunized as soon as possible, as vaccines reduce people’s risk of severe illness,” commented Lachmuth. “We believe it is important that we do our utmost to protect our students and staff. Anything we can do to reduce their risk of getting COVID, lessen the severity of their symptoms, or reduce their time away from work or school is worth doing.

“We strongly urge any employees who have not yet been fully vaccinated, to do so as soon as possible.”

According to the school district, any procedures implemented will be done so in accordance with:

• K-12 Sector Guidelines for Vaccination Policies and the BCPSEA Template Operations Procedure;

• The Human Rights Code of British Columbia or Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ensuring that the School District complies with its obligation to accommodate individuals who are legally entitled to accommodations for medical reasons; and

• The School District’s privacy obligations.

Read more: B.C. school staff must provide COVID vaccine status following new public health order

Read more: North Okanagan-Shuswap school trustees cautioned COVID-19 may push some schools online
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