A person holding a backpack and a paper mask from the legs down.

Given rising cases in public schools, K-12 system vaccine mandates next logical step

Today’s announcement from the B.C. government implementing mandatory vaccinations across the public service makes sense as they are the best proven measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, CUPE BC President Karen Ranalletta said today.

“Throughout the pandemic CUPE BC has supported the efforts of public health officials as they’ve led the fight against COVID-19, and the introduction of a vaccination mandate for the public service is the next logical step to protect our communities,” said Ranalletta. “Given the rise in COVID cases in our schools, we think it also seems prudent to apply this mandate to the K-12 system.”

Ranalletta said that CUPE locals representing workers in the B.C. K-12 education system are ready to work with school districts and the provincial government to ensure any immunization plans are effective, efficient, and respect the rights of K-12 school workers.

“Although individual school districts are responsible for bringing in such a mandate, there can’t be a patchwork quilt of differing approaches to this across the province,” said Ranalletta. “We are urging the provincial government to develop a uniform set of standards to guide the implementation of mandates so that all districts—and all employees—have a consistent framework. And of course, there needs to be reasonable accommodation for the small number of education workers with recognized human rights exemptions.”

CUPE BC continues to strongly encourage all its members to get vaccinated, as it is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. In addition to considering vaccine mandates, CUPE is urging school districts to expand safety measures that promote clean and healthy schools, such as permanent daytime custodial services.