UPDATE: Chad Anderson, SD59 board chair, told Energeticcity that a rapid testing program will be in place for those who choose to stay unvaccinated.

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – School District 59 is implementing a proof of vaccination policy for staff and contractors of the district.

The district board passed a motion in a closed meeting on January 19th to implement the policy that will go into effect “as soon as possible”.

As an alternative for those wanting to stay unvaccinated, the district will also be providing a rapid testing program.

“The timeline will allow for staff that are unvaccinated to get fully immunized,” said a district release announcing the decision on Tuesday.

The district says the health and safety of staff and students were at the forefront of this decision.

“The board feels strongly that the best learning environment for students is to keep them in their classroom where they are surrounded by fellow students and have the support of their classroom teacher and school staff.”

The district is following the advice of public health that vaccination is the strongest method to reduce the risk of severe illness, which will also reduce time away from work and disruption to school environments.

“The most effective means to protect students and staff from COVID-19 is for everyone that is eligible to be vaccinated.”

Further communication and consultation will be conducted in the next steps as district staff work to create a proof of vaccination procedure, said the district.

“District will work closely with the Ministry of Education and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) to develop procedures that follow the process and guidelines as set out in the K-12 Sector Guidelines for Vaccination Policies and the BCPSEA Framework Template.”

The district says the procedure will be developed in accordance with the following:

The policy will be in place until June 30th, and will then be reviewed.

School District 60 announced on December 17th that it would not be requiring proof of vaccination for staff at this time.