The School District No. 43 (Coquitlam) Board of Education has thoughtfully considered the implications and ramifications of a potential vaccine mandate for staff and after deliberation has chosen not to implement a proof of vaccination mandate. The district will continue to diligently follow and promote health and safety measures, including vaccination, in schools.
SD43 Board Chair Kerri Palmer Isaak said, “Based on information available from local health authorities, overall community and staff vaccination rates are high in the Tri-Cities, suggesting instituting a mandate would not result in significant increases in immunization uptake or status. Eligible student vaccination rates are also high and with vaccine availability for 5–11-year-old children announced November 19, 2021, more individuals will be protected. Further, with health and safety measures in place, there has been a low percentage of staff-related COVID-19 cases with students being the drivers of most exposures and transmission events in schools. The Board of Education continues to advocate for and encourage vaccination in all those that are eligible and believes this is the best defense against COVID-19".
Over the last several weeks, the Board has met with Fraser Health's Medical Health Officer to gather information, review school data, and discuss the operational impacts of a vaccine mandate. The Board has also considered input from the Ministry of Education, the BC Public School Employer's Association and reviewed the K-12 Sector Guidelines for Vaccination Policies as prepared by the ad hoc committee comprised of provincial and sector representatives and released October 22, 2021. The resulting conclusion is that a vaccine mandate for all K-12 staff would have a limited impact on transmission rates and that less invasive measures, such as those already in place, would continue to mitigate COVID-19 spread.
“Health and Safety protocols in schools are effective in reducing transmission of COVID-19. Layered measures like daily health checks, masks, physical distancing, and continued hand hygiene work in concert with community immunization to keep schools safe", said Superintendent Patricia Gartland.
The Board will continue to review information from Fraser Health, the Provincial Health Officer, and the Ministry of Education in response to the ongoing pandemic and will continue to support vaccination efforts in the region.