November 29, 2021
Dear North Vancouver School District Community,
After careful consideration, the North Vancouver Board of Education has decided not to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for staff.
As a Board, we have and will continue to make decisions that prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of students, staff, and the wider community, while balancing with the need to keep schools open for in-person learning opportunities. As discussed during the October 19, 2021 Board of Education public meeting, the Board has engaged in a process to understand all aspects of possibly implementing a vaccination mandate on staff, including associated benefits, risks, and challenges.
In reaching its decision, the Board took a thoughtful and measured approach and considered information from multiple sources, including the following factors:
- K-12 Sector Guidelines for Vaccination Policies. The Ministry of Education, BC Public School Employers' Association and the provincial Advisory Committee, made up of key stakeholder groups in the education sector, developed principles, roles and guidelines to support boards of education as they consider options regarding the possible implementation of a vaccine mandate for their staff.
- Local context. In North Vancouver, the vaccination rate is high, with 95% of the population over the age of 12 having received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 93% having received two doses (as of November 23, 2021; source).
- BCTF COVID-19 survey results. According to research conducted fall 2021, the vaccination rate for BC public school teachers is high, with 94% of teachers fully vaccinated (source).
- Public Health advice. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district has worked closely with Vancouver Coastal Health to better understand COVID-19 and to ensure the health and safety of students and staff. Our local Medical Health Officer has consistently assured us that our school environments remain a low-risk setting for COVID-19 transmission given existing safety measures already in place. In addition, a 100% vaccination rate is not required to operate schools in a safe manner.
- Efficacy of a public health order. Both the BCCDC and the Public Health have consistently held the view that a public health order requiring the mandatory vaccination of school staff is not necessary to ensure the safety of students and staff in schools.
- Potential staffing challenges. A vaccine mandate could negatively impact the delivery of education and educational programming.
While the Board will not mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for staff, we do recognize the importance of vaccines and will continue to encourage those who are eligible and able to be vaccinated to do so, to keep our community safe.
On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to thank you for providing the Board with the time necessary to carefully consider the matter of mandatory vaccinations for staff. The Board would also like to express its gratitude to members of the school district community specifically, for your ongoing support and care for one another during the pandemic.
Chair, Board of Education