After careful deliberation, the School District 42 Board of Education has decided against mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for staff.
The decision follows a careful review of considerations outlined in the provincial guidance document and consultation with public health officials, who stated the benefits of a mandate are limited in communities like Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, which already have high vaccination rates.
“We want to make it absolutely clear that we strongly encourage all staff and eligible students to get vaccinated,” said Board Chairperson Korleen Carreras. “We know vaccines are incredibly effective in reducing the risks associated with COVID-19 and we are grateful to our staff members who have already received their vaccinations.”
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have some of the highest vaccination rates in Fraser Health, with 88% of the 18+ population receiving their first dose and 85% receiving their second dose. According to a BCTF-produced study, vaccination levels among teachers are higher than the general population, with 94% reporting they are fully vaccinated.
Public health officials observed that schools continue to be low risk settings for transmission and can safely operate without 100% vaccine coverage. Officials also noted that mandates may potentially exacerbate inequalities for some, and recommended less invasive measures, such as promoting vaccinations among eligible staff.
“Throughout the pandemic, our district has relied on the guidance of public health officials when weighing difficult decisions around school safety,” said Carreras. “We will continue to follow their guidance as we work to encourage vaccines for all staff members.”