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Board gets ball rolling on vaccine mandate for Greater Victoria district schools

Members of the Greater Victoria School Board will vote Monday on getting rolling on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees.
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VICTORIA, B.C.: April 26, 2013 - GENERIC PHOTO of school zone traffic signs in VICTORIA, B.C. April 26, 2013. (ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST). For City story by Stand Alone

Members of the Greater Victoria School Board will vote Monday on getting rolling on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees.

A motion approved unanimously at the committee level this week calls for interim superintendent Deb Whitten to “begin the development and implementation of safety procedures on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the district.”

The district is awaiting guidelines from the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, which it needs before a mandate can be implemented, said board chairwoman Ann Whiteacre. “Nothing is really, really changing until we get those guidelines,” Whiteacre said. “So what we’ll do is we will work with that template. When it comes forward, we can move right away.”

The details are expected to come this week, said trustee Ryan Painter, who brought the motion forward and said he has heard from parents, teachers and other staff who support a vaccine mandate.

Whiteacre said there is also strong support from trustees, but there are “a lot” of legal issues that need to be considered. “We need to get good advice on this before we implement it.”

Premier John Horgan wants school board trustees to make decisions about vaccine mandates in schools, not the province.

Saanich School Board chairman Tim Dunford said his members are interested, but nothing would happen right away. Sooke School Board chairman Ravi Parmar said he has received emails from parents in support of a vaccine mandate.

jbell@timescolonist.com