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SD8 delays vaccine mandate deadline

The Kootenay Lake school district is pushing the deadline for all staff and contractors to provide proof of vaccination back a month, from March 11 to April 11. The decision was made by the board Thursday.

“This one-month extension will allow the board time to consider evolving COVID-19 data and changes to public health directives,” said a statement issued Friday by the district.

On Jan. 18, the board decided to require proof of vaccination from all staff and contractors, but not volunteers nor students, unless they had a legal or medical exemption.

On Jan. 27, Interior Health issued a directive requiring SD8 to provide vaccination status information no later than March 1. Superintendent Trish Smillie says 80 per cent of those who have disclosed that information are vaccinated.

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Unvaccinated staff will be required to undergo regular rapid testing to continue work or take an unpaid leave. Any employee who does not provide information on their vaccination status is deemed to be unvaccinated.

Staff and parents opposed to the mandate rallied outside the board office in Nelson last month.

The Creston Valley Teachers’ Association supports the vaccine requirements, although they feel it should be extended  to volunteers as well.

However, CUPE Local 748, which represents support staff, worries it could lead to staff shortages, financial hardships for members, and possible temporary school closures.

The Nelson District Teachers’ Association has not returned several messages from Vista Radio seeking comment.

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