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SD8 pauses vaccination requirements for staff

The Kootenay Lake school district has put its requirement for staff and contractors to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination on hold.

The board decided Tuesday to pause its requirement pending further changes to public health orders and further information from BC Public School Employers’ Association.

“This decision allows our board more time to consider evolving COVID-19 data and changes to public health directives expected in the coming days and weeks,” said board chair Lenora Trenaman said in a news release.

For unvaccinated SD8 staff and contractors, this means they no longer face a deadline after which unpaid leaves or rapid testing are required.

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All SD8 staff and contractors can continue to work as they normally would, in keeping with provincial and federal health and safety guidelines. This pause follows a board decision on March 3 to delay the implementation date of the vaccine mandate by a month, from March 11 to April 11.

“Our staff and contractors will continue to work together every day to ensure our students thrive, and our families and school communities are healthy and supported,” superintendent Trish Smillie said in the release.

However, the board could bring the vaccine requirement back later, or remove it entirely depending upon future changes to provincial health orders and directives, the district noted.

The board said the purpose its proof of vaccination requirement was to safeguard the health and safety of employees and students. Students and volunteers were exempt.

The Creston Valley Teachers’ Association said it supported the vaccine requirements, although they felt it should be extended to volunteers as well. But CUPE Local 748, which represents support staff, worried it could lead to staff shortages.

The neighbouring Kootenay Columbia school district opted not to impose a vaccine requirement.

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