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Sooke School Board talking with staff about vaccine mandate

The Sooke School Board says it’s surveying staff about the prospect of requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
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Sooke board chairman Ravi Parmar. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The Sooke School Board says it’s surveying staff about the prospect of requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We collectively feel strongly that through proper data collection and meaningful engagement with staff and stakeholders we will be provided with the information necessary to make an informed decision,” said board chairman Ravi Parmar, adding keeping students and employees safe and healthy has been the board’s top priority since the beginning of the pandemic.

Ann Whiteaker, chairwoman of the Greater Victoria School Board, says her board will work closely with the unions involved to gather information before considering a vaccine mandate.

“Then all that information will come to the board and they will again have to make a decision,” Whiteaker said.

A motion to get rolling on a mandate was tabled at the board’s Monday night meeting, she said, noting the board, like others across the province, is following a set of vaccine-mandate guidelines established by the Ministry of Education, the B.C. School Trustees Association and others.

“Generally it’s a process set up so that we can ensure that we are following all legal requirements and being respectful to our employees.”

Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association president Winona Waldron pointed to a survey done for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation indicating that 94 per cent of teachers in the province are fully vaccinated.

“So I feel very unconcerned then about a vaccine mandate,” she said. “It’s going to make not much difference for most people.

“I think our focus needs to be on the safety measures for those who aren’t vaccinated, children.”

jbell@timescolonist.com