Our children and grandchildren are our future, yet those very people elected to protect our children have done the opposite. The fourth wave has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated and of the children. Our politicians and PHO’s way of dealing with this wave has been to pass the buck and our School Boards have abrogated their responsibility to keep our children safe.
This all started at the very beginning of the pandemic when a very wise principal at Heritage Park School instituted a school wide mask mandate. The consequence was that his district would not support the mandate and he was forced to retract the mandate and apologize. Instead, the provincial government and the PHO were left to dither for months before taking any action and putting in a partial mask mandate. More recently the PHO only moved forward with a full mask mandate for schools when the elementary schools were running rampant with the virus. Even this action was only taken because the Vancouver School Board took the step they should have taken at the beginning of the pandemic. This token move by one Board does not excuse the inaction of Boards throughout this pandemic.
Now we have an obvious opportunity for School Boards to act. Teachers have no vaccine mandate. We are sending our children to classrooms where some teachers remain unvaccinated. We worry more about people going out to restaurants and gyms than we do about our children. Those heading to a restaurant must show proof of full vaccination, but teachers can be unvaccinated in crowded classrooms that are poorly ventilated. In doing so we are exposing the children to an unsafe school environment where the children are getting sick from a virus that we know can have severe consequences. This environment is under the control of School Boards who are the employer of the teacher.
Even the PHO has mandated vaccines in all health care workplaces. The Government is mandating vaccines for public sector workers and there are numerous examples of vaccine mandates being instituted and enforced in the private sector. School Boards, as the employer of the teachers, have a responsibility to the children and to their community to institute a vaccine mandate and should be advised to do so by their Superintendent. The union to which the teachers belong has state publicly that it supports such a mandate. Every day this is not done is another day the Board puts children at risk.
The pandemic has made clear that both Boards and Superintendents have failed in their duty to protect our children. Now, close to thirty percent of the cases in this province are children. The PHO suggests children do not tend to get as sick as adults but the latest research suggests children can suffer the same long term Covid issues as adults. With so many children being ill and with the lie about “no transmission in schools’ being exposed, it is time for School Boards to act by instituting a vaccine mandate for all employees, including teachers.
I believe parents should consider taking their Trustees to court for endangering children. The Trustees as a Board define the terns required to work in their district. They are solely responsible for instituting a vaccine mandate in their district and the BCTF has stated they will support such action. The Boards have no excuse for not acting to protect the children. In short, the buck stops with the Board of School Trustees and, if they continue to abrogate their basic responsibility to protect the children under their jurisdiction, then they should be held liable for every young child that gets this terrible virus.
The country learned from the SARS experience in Toronto that those in charge must exercise the precautionary principle. The Government and the PHO have failed to do so. Our Boards are the last line of defense for our children and must pay attention to the findings of the SARS commission. Exercising the precautionary principle means that every Board needs to institute a vaccine mandate for the teachers and other School Board employees. The Superintendents must then enforce the policy of the Board.
It is time to stop endangering our children. It is time to exercise leadership. It is time for every Board to institute a vaccine mandate in every School District in British Columbia!
Doug Player, October 11, 2021.