Regina Public board gives green light to pursue staff vaccination policy

The school division’s administration will now begin drafting a staff vaccination policy, which will require another approval from the board before being implemented.

Author of the article:

Lynn Giesbrecht

The sign in front of Regina's public school board office on 4th Avenue.
The sign in front of Regina’s public school board office on 4th Avenue. Photo by Brandon Harder /jpg

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After getting a green light from Regina Public Schools’ board of education, the division’s administration is starting work on a staff vaccination policy.

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The board voted on a motion put forward by the division’s education director Greg Enion, which recommended that trustees “endorse development and implementation of a Vaccination Administrative Procedure by the Director of Education.”

The motion at this week’s meeting also said the division anticipates the vaccination policy to include all division employees, from interns to board members to contracted bus drivers.

Six out of the seven trustees voted in favour of the motion, with only trustee Elizabeth Strom (Subdivision 2) opposed. In the discussion ahead of the vote, Strom expressed concerns over the potential legal ramifications of a staff vaccination policy.

“I will always be the person that stands for human rights and I would not ever want to violate or force someone or coerce them into violating their conscience over something,” Strom told the other trustees.

“While I admit this is not an easy situation, I believe that this would not be in the best interest, so I will not support this.”

All the other trustees voiced strong support for the motion ahead of the vote, including trustee Cindy Anderson (Subdivision 4), who said she works in health care.

She stressed the science behind these vaccinations and the qualified health-care workers urging people to get their shots.

“I am trusting our children and our schools and our families to this science, so I totally support this and I won’t back down until this is done,” Anderson said.

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Trustee Adam Hicks (Subdivision 3) reminded the board the vaccination policy to be developed will not mandate vaccines.

“It is very clear that we are not forcing or mandating vaccines. That is very different than what this policy outlines here,” he said, adding all staff will have the option to provide regular negative COVID-19 tests instead of vaccination proof.

The passing of the motion does not give the division approval to implement a staff vaccination policy, but only to draft an administrative procedure. Once that administrative procedure is complete, it will come back before the board and will then need to be approved again before being implemented.

Even so, board chair Tara Molson said she is thrilled to see one more step taken on the road to a vaccination policy.

“I’m really happy to see that we can move forward (on) developing an administrative procedure,” Molson said.

“Regina Public Schools has over 24,000 students and over half of those are unable to be vaccinated, so we have a responsibility to keep our students and staff as safe as possible at all times.”

RPS is not alone in its consideration of a staff vaccination policy. Each of the province’s 27 school divisions and their boards are considering a staff vaccination policy, Saskatchewan School Boards Association president Shawn Davidson told the Leader-Post last week.

Molson elected as new Regina Public board chair

Molson was also elected as the new board chair for RPS at the board’s annual organizational meeting held Tuesday evening after the regular board meeting.

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Trustee Sarah Cummings Truszkowski was elected as vice-chair. Both Molson and Cummings Truszkowski won by acclamation, with no other trustees wanting to run for the positions. Former board chair Adam Hicks said he was not submitting his name this year.

Each year the board elects a chair and vice-chair at its organizational meeting.

  1. Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, speaks to media regarding the upcoming school year at a news conference held at St. Jerome School in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 31, 2021.

    Sask. school divisions considering vaccine mandates for school staff

  2. Dr. Ayisha Kurji is a paediatrician in Saskatoon.

    ‘Unnecessary risk:’ Sask. schools report hundreds of cases in two weeks

lgiesbrecht@postmedia.com

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