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Letter sent to Burnaby School District staff encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations

All Burnaby School District staff received a letter Wednesday afternoon encouraging those eligible to receive their COVID vaccinations.

The letter was sent and signed by partner groups in the district, including the Burnaby Teachers’ Association, CUPE Local 379, the Burnaby Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association, the District Parent Advisory Council, the Burnaby School District, and the Burnaby board of education.

“We encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated if they have not yet done so, as it is an important layer of protection. The data is clear in British Columbia that vaccination protects against serious illness and loss of life,” said the letter.

“We want to be clear that we collectively support vaccination as an important way to protect everyone in our workplaces and school communities, and especially those who cannot be vaccinated or are immune compromised.”

Although vaccines are mandatory for all staff employed directly by the BC government, the province has not yet mandated vaccines for school staff.

Earlier this month, the BC Teachers’ Federation said it would support COVID vaccine mandate for all public education employees. However, BCFT president Teri Mooring stated she had concerns about how the mandate would be implemented.

“At this point, I am very concerned that a potential vaccine mandate could be implemented district-by-district, employer-by-employer. That’s the wrong approach. Any vaccine mandate would need to be provincially implemented and done equitably. We can’t have unequal treatment of workers in the public education system,” said Mooring in an Oct 7 statement.

“To date, the province’s public health officer has not issued a public health order to force districts to mandate vaccines. In the absence of such an order, the BCTF is planning to enter into discussions with the BC Public School Employers’ Association and the Ministry of Education to ensure that, should a provincial mandate be imposed, a fair process be put in place to protect the rights of all teachers that we can enforce through traditional labour relations tactics, such as grievances.”

Wednesday’s joint letter noted that the “Burnaby Burnaby board of education and others across the province are awaiting information from the provincial government’s advisory committee that will include guidance for school boards regarding possible mandatory vaccination for staff.”