WINNIPEG - Manitoba’s teacher’s union is applauding a move by the province to require all school staff to be fully immunized against COVID-19.
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society says the province’s 15,000 teachers have cause to celebrate the new rules for government employees, including educational workers, citing uncertainty and concerns about health and safety for the school year.
“This is welcome news for our members and everyone in the public school system,” MTS President James Bedford says. “We are pleased to see that the government has erred on the side of caution and prioritized student and teacher safety.”
The provincial government says all school staff members will need to either get both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by October 31 or take regular COVID-19 testing as many as three times per week. The latest public health orders also mandate the wearing of masks in all indoor public spaces.
Bedford says, since those who choose not to or cannot be vaccinated will still have the option of getting tested frequently, their reasons for being exempt from being vaccinated are irrelevant. The province has not yet specified how rapid testing for designated provincial public service workers will be funded. The vaccine mandate includes all provincial employees who have ongoing contact with vulnerable populations, especially children.
Meanwhile, Gray Academy, which teaches students in kindergarten to Grade 12, says it will require all students who turn 12 by December 31 to have proof of vaccination in order to attend in September. School CEO Lori Binder says parents who haven’t had their children vaccinated will still be offered a chance to arrange a first or second dose. The school is also requiring all teachers and staff to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 7, and their second by October 17.