Neither teachers nor school staff will need a COVID-19 vaccination to work in the district.
The school board made the announcement about mandating vaccinations Friday afternoon in a notice posted to the district website.
“We want to make it absolutely clear that we strongly encourage all staff and eligible students to get vaccinated,” said board chairperson Korleen Carreras.
However, the decision was made “after careful deliberation”, a review of the Ministry of Education K-12 Sector Guidelines for Vaccination Policies, and in consultation with public health officials, who, according to the notice, had stated the benefits of a mandate are limited in communities like Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, which already have high vaccination rates.
The school board referenced a B.C. Teachers Federation-produced study that notes vaccination levels among teachers are higher than the general population, with 94 per cent reporting they are fully vaccinated. The board also mentioned that vaccination rates in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are some of the highest in Fraser Health with 88 per cent of those 18-years and older with at least one dose and 85 per cent fully vaccinated.
“We know vaccines are incredibly effective in reducing the risks associated with COVID-19 and we are grateful to our staff members who have already received their vaccinations,” added Carreras.
Another component in the school board’s decision is that according to public health officials, schools continue to be low risk settings for transmission and can safely operate without 100 per cent vaccine coverage. They also noted that mandates may potentially exacerbate inequalities for some, and have recommended less invasive measures, such as promoting vaccinations among eligible staff.
“Throughout the pandemic, our district has relied on the guidance of public health officials when weighing difficult decisions around school safety,” said Carreras.
“We will continue to follow their guidance as we work to encourage vaccines for all staff members.”
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