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Pembina Hills staff must now submit vaccination records to division by Nov. 29

Division is looking at having Shopper’s Drug Mart in Westlock conduct testing of unvaccinated/partially vaccinated employees
New Pembina HIlls Sign
The Pembina Hills School Division is requiring employees to submit their vaccination records to the division by Nov. 29. Those employees who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated will have the option to take part in rapid testing, which will be paid for by the division until Dec. 17.

The Pembina Hills School Division is now proceeding with its vaccination mandate, with several hundred employees already submitting their vaccination records to the division. 

At the Oct. 13 board meeting, the previous Pembina Hills school board voted unanimously to support the development of an Administrative Procedure (AP) outlining the new vaccinate-or-test requirements for employees, contractors and non-employees who regularly attend division property and interact with staff and/or students, such as volunteer coaches on extracurricular activities. 

AP 20-07 has been completed and is now available on the Pembina Hills website. Essentially, it says that all staff (and others to whom the AP applies) must submit a copy of their vaccination record to the division by Nov. 29. 

Those employees who are unvaccinated (or are partially vaccinated) then have the option of undergoing regular testing for COVID-19 and submitting those test results to the division’s Human Resources department prior to the employee’s scheduled start time at work. 

(Independent contractors like markers who work off-site have some leeway, but they must still submit test results before attending division property.) 

The AP states that, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 17, the cost of rapid screening tests will be covered by the division. In other words, staff who pay for testing will be able to expense those costs to the division during that three-week period. After that, they’re on their own. 

The AP states the intention of covering this expense up until the Christmas holidays is to “permit a reasonable time for unvaccinated employees to take steps to be fully vaccinated prior to incurring rapid test expenses.” 

Assistant Supt. of human resources Brett Cooper said they were initially looking at hiring a company out of St. Albert to conduct the rapid testing for that three-week period, but they’ve now entered into negotiation with the Shopper’s Drug Mart in Westlock. 

“They’re closer and the prices are a little easier for us to deal with,” he said. 

The details still need to be worked out, but Cooper said they are looking at having Shopper’s Drug Mart conduct rapid tests for unvaccinated employees for a few hours on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. 

He said that Shopper’s Drug Mart would travel out to Barrhead to conduct testing for those unvaccinated employees in Fort Assiniboine and Swan Hills, assuming there are any. 

“What we don’t know yet is how many people are going to need to access the service,” said Cooper. “We’ll know that closer to (Nov. 29).” 

Just in the first few days of November, Cooper said they had already received the vaccination records of 400 employees and others, “which is great.” 

That backs up the results an anonymous survey conducted amongst Pembina Hills’ 700 full-time and part-time staff, which showed the vast majority of employees were fully or partially vaccinated. 

Once Nov. 29 draws closer, Cooper said they will be sending out information directly to those unvaccinated staff members and others about how they can access rapid testing. 

"Any procedures that go along with this, we’ll communicate just to those people who want to access it,” he said. 

It should be noted that under the AP, division students, parents and guardians do not have to disclose their vaccination status to the division — this only applies to staff, contractors and those volunteers who regularly attend division property. 

The AP further outlines the conditions for considering employee requests for exemption or reasonable accommodation. 

Those employees (and others) who refuse to submit their vaccination records or undergo testing may be subject to administrative or disciplinary action and possible termination of their employment/contract/participation in division activities.

Kevin Berger,

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