Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In a special meeting of the Prairie Rose Public Schools Board of Trustees on February 10th, members convened to discuss the future of their COVID-19 policies.
The meeting was held in response to an announcement from the province on February 8th that the Restrictions Exemptions Program (REP) has been lifted, as a part of a staged approach to removing all public health restrictions.
“We felt it was important for you to consider whether or not maintaining and keeping that policy in place made sense, given the changes that have been made so far in the rest of the province, as well as the direction in the letter that school boards align with the direction the provinces are moving in as well,” said Superintendent Reagan Weeks.
The board noted that recommendation from the province was for the REP to be removed from all facilities in Alberta, and that in the event of another spike in cases or increase in public health measures, the work to enact the policy was already down and would be easy to re-instate.
Shauna Vanderspruit, Ward 3 Trustee, added that many teachers throughout the division do not want for the policy, which requires for vaccine status disclosure for all Prairie Rose staff that work directly with children, to continue.
“I don’t see any reason for this policy to continue, given [Kenney’s] recommendation when he works with a council of advisors. And the communications that I’ve received from teachers throughout the night. They don’t want it either,” said Vanderspruit. It was noted that there have been communications from staff on both sides of the issue, and that there are likely to be people unhappy regardless of the ultimate decision.
A motion to rescind policy that requires all payroll staff working directly with students to provide vaccination status disclosure, and for those not fully vaccinated, regular proof of COVID-19 negative test was put forward by Trustee Nancy Haraga. The motion was carried.
The board notes that presently, masking is still required indoors in all schools.