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B.C. school staff must provide COVID vaccine status following new public health order

New order dated Jan. 17 says that non-identifying info must be provided to medical health officer
Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back-to-school Thursday, September 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

All school districts in B.C. must provide their staff’s COVID-19 vaccination status if asked by a medical health officer, according to a public health order issued Monday (Jan. 17).

The order, dated Monday, was uploaded to the provincial government’s website quietly without any formal announcement. According to the other, the collection of vaccination status would be triggered by the medical health officer’s request.

There is currently no requirement for school staff to be vaccinated in B.C. except in Delta, where that decision was made by the school district.

“An employer must request proof of vaccination from each staff member and must keep a record of each staff member’s vaccination status,” the order stated.

“A staff member must provide their employer with proof of vaccination on the request of their employer and by the date directed by their employer, and if the vaccination status of the staff member changes the staff member must provide this information and their vaccine card to their employer without delay, and the employer must update the record of the staff member’s vaccination status.”

Further, the order stated that school districts must report the vaccination status of their school staff “aggregate, non-individually identifying basis by school” to the medical health officer when the latter asks for the information.

According to the order, when a school or district puts in place measures to “prevent, mitigate or respond” to infections at the school, staff who choose not to provide vaccination status will be treated as unvaccinated.

On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that the order would make it easier for school districts to implement a vaccine mandate if they chose to do so but that there is no COVID immunization requirement in place to work in schools.

In a social media post, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation said they had not been briefed on the new order ahead of time.

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