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Surrey school district says ‘no change’ despite new proof of vaccination order

Order says school staff must provide COVID vaccine info if required by medical health officer
Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back-to-school Thursday, September 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

All school staff in B.C. must provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status to school districts when required by a medical health officer, according to a public health order.

But Surrey School Supt. Jordan Tinney says that doesn’t change anything for the district.

“No change, nothing,” Tinney explained in a video Tuesday (Jan. 18).

He added the board has made the decision to not pursue proof of vaccination status unless directed to.

It was back in November that the school district decided against mandating COVID-19 vaccines for staff, citing high vaccination rates in Surrey and White Rock.

However, the Delta school board, during a Jan. 11 in-camera meeting, directed the district to create, implement and amend as necessary a “Proof of Vaccination Regarding COVID-19 Operations Procedure” to help protect the health and safety of both staff and students.

The order, dated Monday, was uploaded to the provincial government’s website quietly without any formal announcement.

“An employer must request proof of vaccination from each staff member and must keep a record of each staff member’s vaccination status,” the order stated.

“A staff member must provide their employer with proof of vaccination on the request of their employer and by the date directed by their employer, and if the vaccination status of the staff member changes the staff member must provide this information and their vaccine card to their employer without delay, and the employer must update the record of the staff member’s vaccination status.”

Further, the order stated that school districts must report the vaccination status of their school staff “aggregate, non-individually identifying basis by school” to the medical health officer when the latter asks for the information.

According to the order, when a school or district puts in place measures to “prevent, mitigate or respond” to infections at the school, staff who choose not to provide vaccination status will be treated as unvaccinated.

On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the order was put in place to support medical health officers in understanding the vaccinations status of school staff.

She added it also assists medical health officers identify which schools are most at-risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Meantime, Tinney also provided an update on rapid tests and ventilation upgrades.

The province has previously announced rapid tests for staff, Tinney said, and the district is hoping to receive those soon. But the district needs to repackage the tests, so it’s two per adult and then they need to figure out how to distribute those tests.

“We think that this is just phase one of a larger rollout that will include students.”

For ventilation, Tinney said the district has received verification for ventilation funding. He added the district is figuring out how to apply the funding to each school.

READ ALSO: Surrey school district releases online ventilation database, but critics say more needs to be done, Oct. 16, 2021

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