In October, the South East Cornerstone Public School Division announced a policy that would see all staff have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or if they choose to not disclose their vaccination status, a proof of a negative COVID-19 test once a week. Since the policy came into effect, the results have been positive.
“Out of 1,101 staff members, 87.2 percent have reported fully vaccinated, so just under 13 percent are either not fully vaccinated or have chosen not to disclose their status; that’s also their option of course,” explained Lynn Little, the Director of Education with the SECPSD.
There have been some challenges in implementing the policy. Little pointed out that when the policy went into effect, there weren’t many places that had testing available. As a result, the school division brought in their own tests for use. This saw administrators with the division, such as principals, having to add the role of handling the testing to their responsibilities.
Now, there are a number of testing sites available, which has streamlined the process quite a bit.
In terms of reception of the policy overall, there have only been a few hiccups.
“There has been some human resource support required, albeit very minimal,” Little said. “Less than half a percentage point – 0.3 percent – of our employee group have not been fully co-operative.”
The division has stated they will be covering the costs of the testing for those who are not fully vaccinated or who choose to not disclose their vaccination status, until December 18th. Starting that date, employees will be responsible for covering their own costs for testing.
The proof of vaccination policy applies to not only staff, but all those who will access board facilities for 15 minutes or more during the day, and who is interacting with students or preparing food for the students. This includes community coaches, volunteers, students on professional placements, school community councils if meeting face to face and all student transportation drivers. The list also includes contractors at facilities or those who access school facilities, such as delivery services, daycare, libraries and family resource centres.