Pembina Hills trustees voted unanimously at their Oct. 13 meeting on a motion to support the development of an administrative procedure (AP) outlining how division staff will be required to either be fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing for COVID-19 in order to work.
Assistant superintendent of human resources Brett Cooper stressed repeatedly that the division would not force anyone to become vaccinated if they did not wish to be.
“We respect individual rights and individual freedoms and people’s choice to get vaccinated or not,” he said. “But you do have to prove to us that you’re fit for duty under the Occupational Health and Safety legislation (by providing) a negative COVID test.”
Cooper indicated that they are still waiting for a few details from the division’s legal counsel before the AP can be developed, but it would not be ready until after the Oct. 18 election at the very least.
The new requirements could be in effect before Christmas, though the division was investigating the possibility of having a private company provide testing to unvaccinated employees until the holiday break, at which point it would be up to individual staff members to arrange for their own privately-paid COVID test.
While the board supported the development of the AP to ensure the safety of students and staff, trustees repeatedly criticized the province for downloading health decisions to school boards, “which due to the government’s lack of action has become critical,” said Pembina Hills board chair Jennifer Tuininga.