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B.C.'s independent school teachers, staff included in vaccine priority rollout

FILE - Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead, Manitoba Vaccine Implementation Task Force draws a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Winnipeg, Friday, March 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

FISA BC dispelling inaccurate information that independent school staff, teachers not included in priority rollout

B.C.'s independent schools confirm all staff who want COVID vaccine will be part of priority clinics

Province's teachers and school staff are among frontline workers given priority for COVID-19 vaccinations

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Teachers and other staff who work at Surrey’s independent schools are included in the priority rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, which started this week.

The head of the Federation of Independent Schools Associations in B.C. is dispelling some inaccurate information that private school staff were not going to be part of the effort.

Independent school teachers and staff will start receiving shots next week.

“It is a substantial number and we’re just very pleased that, of course, we were included in that,” said Shawn Chisholm, FISA BC executive director. “That seems to be the practice from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education that they look at it as not just the public schools and the independent schools — they look at us as a sector, a K to 12 sector, all with the same goal of supporting students.”

The province announced on March 18 that teachers and school staff would be among 300,000 frontline workers given priority for COVID-19 vaccinations. On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Surrey is a priority area for this rollout. Surrey’s school district, the largest in B.C., has seen the highest number of school-based exposures in the province.

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Vaccination clinics for Surrey teachers and staff began on Wednesday. However, there had been some concerns about whether or not independent school staff were included in this priority grouping.

Chisholm confirms that was not the case.

“Right away we were informed that independent schools would be included with that,” he explained. “Earlier this week, when Fraser Health had indicated that the Surrey school district would be the first … we were contacted by the Fraser Health Authority to make sure and help them with the logistics to make sure independent school staff would be included in that vaccination.”

He says Surrey is home to 37 independent schools.

Chisholm says while vaccines are one part of efforts to keep people safe, other measures are also in place.

“I think that through a lot of consultation with all the education partners in British Columbia, that we have worked with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education to put in health and safety guidelines that protect people as much as possible,” he told NEWS 1130.