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Rally planned to oppose SD8 vaccine requirements

A group of staff and parents are planning to rally Friday morning in front of the Kootenay Lake school board office in Nelson in opposition to the district’s impending vaccine requirements.

Trustees recently decided that all staff and contractors must provide proof that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 by March 11. Otherwise they will be subject to frequent testing or will have to take unpaid leave.

The district said its goal is to safeguard the health and safety of employees and students. The rule does not apply to students or volunteers.

“I know many people consider testing to be a fair compromise, but that doesn’t change that it lacks logic,” says Amy Ridgemore, a parent involved in the rally.

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“If you can get and give COVID, whether you are vaccinated or not, why are we only testing one of those groups? We need to test everyone or test no one.”

In addition, Ridgemore questions the expense involved in buying rapid testing kits.

“It’s a huge investment when we’ve already had cuts … To spend money on this illogical step is obscene to me. A much less expensive solution is to stay home if you’re sick.”

Ridgemore is calling on the board to rescind their decision, and notes it is one of less than a handful in the province who have adopted vaccine requirements.

“We have to ask why. Is it because it doesn’t make monetary or logical sense? Why is our district one of the ones that’s digging their heels in?”

Ridgemore says the rally is being organized by individual staff and parents, but is not affiliated with any union or parent advisory council.

The Creston Valley Teachers’ Association supports the vaccine requirements, although they feel it should be extended  to volunteers as well.

However, CUPE Local 748, which represents support staff, worries it could lead to staff shortages, financial hardships for members, and possible temporary school closures.

The Nelson District Teachers’ Association has not returned several messages from Vista Radio seeking comment.

Friday’s rally is from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. In advertising the event, organizers said it is not a walkout, strike, or picket. They instructed participants to stay on the sidewalk surrounding the fence exterior and said displays of racism or hate will not be tolerated.

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