The Chilliwack District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) has asked the Chilliwack school board to enact a vaccine mandate for all school staff and volunteers in a letter dated Nov. 3.
Parents and teachers will find out the board’s decision this week as a statement about whether or not they have decided to issue a vaccine mandate is expected soon, according to Trustee Jared Mumford.
The Chilliwack DPAC surveyed all the Parent Advisory Councils (PAC) at schools in the district, and while there are definitely parents on both sides of the issue, the majority requested “a mandate for all school staff and volunteers in the district as an additional safety measure to protect their children and their learning environment,” according to the letter signed by Chilliwack DPAC chair Alicia Fleetham.
“We ask that the board enact at COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all school staff and volunteers of School District 33 to ensure the minimum standard of protection that many sectors across the province have enacted to meet the safety of all the students and their families in our district.”
There has been criticism of the provincial government for not issuing vaccine mandates to school staff, instead handing the matter to individual boards
The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), for one, says the province should not be offloading the matter to school boards.
“Any vaccine mandate would need to be provincially implemented and done equitably,” BCTF president Teri Mooring said. “We can’t have unequal treatment of workers in the public education system.”
Former Chilliwack MLA, attorney general, and parent to has been outspoken about the issue requesting that the province take the lead and mandate all adults in schools be vaccinated.
“It’s totally perplexing how vaccines will be mandatory for B.C. public sector workers (who mostly work with other adults) but not for people who work with children,” Penner said.
Instead, the province created a committee after which the Ministry of Education issued guidelines to K-to-12 school boards considering staff vaccine requirement.
Those guidelines include:
• Gather data and evidence in alignment with privacy rules;
• Confirm alignment with legal advice, public health guidance and Orders;
• Consult with employee groups and Indigenous rights holders and engage community;
• Decide whether to create a proof of vaccination policy and announce decision;
• Implement operational plan.
The neighbouring Abbotsford school district issued a statement last week on its decision to not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for staff.
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