B.C. teachers 'would not oppose mandatory vaccinations,' union says
The head of the BC Teachers' Federation said the union would not be opposed to making vaccination mandatory for its members.
Teri Mooring made the comments following an announcement from the province Tuesday morning regarding the COVID-19 safety strategy for this school year, which will include a return to mandatory masks for Grade 4 to 12.
"We do need to protect our members right to privacy, and in those situations where our teachers have exemptions, we would need to make sure that they're accomodated," Mooring said, and added the federation believes there's a high vaccination rate among teachers already, though they don't have a specific percentage they can provide.
"We are, however, concerned about the low rate of vaccinations amongst 12 to 17-year-olds, especially those who are fully vaccinated."
Mooring said she was hoping to hear more from the government about school-based vaccination clinics for now, and in September.
"I think the trend that we've seen, and certainly the data reflects this, is that in those parts of the province with low vaccination rates, we're also seeing low vaccination rates amongst 12 to 17-year-olds," she said. "I think first, we need to set up in-school clinics. We need to make sure students are educated about the importance of vaccinations and we need to give them the opportunity."
Mooring said the return to the previous year's mask policy, without a requirement for kindergarten to Grade 3, "is going to make little sense to people."
"We think we're in a very different situation this year with the Delta variant and the majority of our students are not eligible for vaccinations," she said. "I'm right now asking all families to send their children, their young children to school with masks and encourage them to wear masks."
Mooring said while it's positive to hear work is being done on improving ventilation at schools all over the province, she had hoped more details would be provided.
In terms of COVID-19 exposure notifications this school year, Mooring said they want to see "meaningful, timely, and transparent" data.