VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR RECONSIDERATION OF VSB DECISION ON VACCINE MANDATE

For immediate release
November 23, 2021

The Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association is calling on the Vancouver School Board to reconsider their decision not to implement a vaccine mandate for employees. BC continues to see cases of COVID-19 across the province as we are now in our third school year impacted by the pandemic.  While the vaccine rate in Vancouver is high, we want to see the employer implement as many layers of protection as possible against COVID-19 in schools to keep staff and students safe.

VESTA sent an email communication to the VSB Board Chair and interim Superintendent on October 12 urging trustees to advocate for a provincial COVID vaccine requirement; and in the interim to proceed with a mandatory vaccine requirement for all employees, other than for those with verified medical exemptions, as well as for any volunteers within schools.

We are disappointed with the Vancouver School Board’s decision on November 4 to not implement a vaccine mandate for all employees. This decision came less than two weeks after school boards were provided with guidelines for consideration from BCPSEA on implementing a vaccine mandate. It is also concerning that Trustees chose to have all discussions on this matter in camera rather than at a public Board or Committee meeting where stakeholders and the public could provide input or at a minimum listen to the debate. We understand that Districts were given the choice whether or not to implement mandates in the absence of the Provincial Health Authorities mandating them across the province, however, we feel that this is a missed opportunity to provide an additional layer of protection for all staff and students.

We are asking the trustees to reconsider their decision not to implement a vaccine mandate in Vancouver. We are prepared to discuss and work with the District on any exemptions that may need to be made and hope that we can have an ongoing dialogue with Trustees as well as all stakeholders as part of that reconsideration.

Sincerely,

Joanne Sutherland
President
VESTA