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UPDATED: Vaccination not mandatory for Powell River Board of Education school staff

School District 47 is not mandating vaccines
ISSUES EDICT: School District 47 will not be mandating COVID-19 vaccines for staff, the school district has announced.

In consultation with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), and through the weighing of evidence, impact, and the consequences for staff and students, Powell River Board of Education will not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for School District 47 staff. 

According to a media release from the school district, board of education chairperson Dale Lawson stated:

“Throughout this pandemic, our board has relied heavily on Vancouver Coastal Health, our provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and our premier’s office for COVID-19-related matters, and firmly believe that government should not leave the decision regarding vaccine mandates to individual school boards. While we support vaccines, we do not believe individual school boards should make such important health decisions that impact the entire province. 

“Information provided from Vancouver Coastal Health through our public health officer is ‘that a vaccine mandate is unlikely to increase total protection to a degree that would have an appreciable impact on transmission in schools. This is in part due to the reviews indicating that your teams have been successful with safety plans that have resulted in schools being low-risk environments, and thanks to excellent vaccine uptake in VCH. With rates as high as they are, there are diminishing returns for mandates, especially as they also galvanize a proportion of those vaccine hesitant folks into opposition. For population health measures to be successful, and for schools to operate safely, we do not believe that mandates are required.’”

Lawson said the school district has a responsibility to keep schools open while making health and safety a priority.

“To date, we have not been made aware of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in school-aged children in our community or transmission of COVID-19 within our schools, even when we have had exposure notices,” stated Lawson. “We are not mandating vaccines for staff, but encourage everyone to get a vaccine. We will continue to be diligent in following the COVID safety measures and protocols in schools.

“We would like to thank staff, students, families, and our community, for being patient and compassionate toward one another and respecting differences as we all work toward the same goal of making schools and our community safe.”

In response to an enquiry from the Peak, Powell River and District Teachers’ Association president Izi Loveluck said for the safety of those who are unvaccinated, it would be best that the provincial health officer mandate vaccinations for all school employees province-wide.

“This decision should be made by the medical professionals who have guided our COVID-19 response thus far,” said Loveluck, “and should not be downloaded on school trustees.”