Chilliwack – In a media release on Monday November 8, Chilliwack School Board announced they will not force a vaccine mandate for teachers and students.
This on the heels of the Province, putting this issue in the hands of local boards and not a blanked decree.
Since then, Trustee Heather Maahs noted that her concern and that of Trustees Barry Neufeld and Darrell Fergason was not about the actual dose. It was the sharing of information and that, they felt, would be a breach of privacy and could turn into other issues. The union that Ms. Maahs mentions is not the Teachers union per se, it is the union representing support workers within the school system.
The release from School Board Vice Chair Jared Mumford states in part: ( NOTE School Board Chair Willow Reichelt, SD33 School Trustee took to social media to clarify a few things – This is the official statement about the Board’s vaccine mandate decision. Note that I was told by BCPSEA (BC Public School Employers Association) that I was in conflict (Reichelt’s Husband is a local teacher), so I did not participate in the discussion or vote on whether or not to impose a mandate. I was able to support the superintendent’s messaging after the mandate decision was made.
The health and safety of our staff and students is paramount. The Chilliwack Board of
Education values the expertise, direction, and guidance provided by the Provincial and
Fraser Health Medical Officers. Their guidance continues to help us navigate the
pandemic, while reducing the comparative risks in order to keep schools open for face-
to-face instruction, which we know has a significant positive impact on students’
academic success and mental health.
The advice from the Fraser Health and Coastal Health Medical Officers is that a vaccine
mandate for staff is not likely to significantly reduce the comparative risk in schools.
Vaccination mandates are more appropriate in high-risk settings where transmission is
high and outcomes are severe. Schools are not considered high risk settings. The
Medical Health Officers do not believe a vaccine mandate is necessary for schools to
operate safely and therefore do not support a vaccine mandate in schools. Their advice
is to encourage everyone in the community to get vaccinated and to continue
implementing robust health and safety measures in schools.
Given the analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data, the Board of Education
does not support a vaccination policy at this time. Instead, the Board will take the
following steps to ensure the health and safety of all in our school community.
Continue to advocate vaccinations as an important step to protect all school
community members, especially those who cannot be vaccinated or are immune
• Continue to work closely with the team at Fraser Health to monitor and respond
to emerging events with a thoughtful and coordinated approach. This includes
implementing enhanced, targeted and intensive measures in schools when a
cluster is detected;
• Continue the maintenance and monitoring of ventilation systems to ensure they
are in good working order, and maximize the amount of clean air entering our
• Continue to be diligent in implementing Provincial COVID-19 Communicable
Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings.
Please note that given all the facts – and to ensure we can keep our schools open
and not exacerbate inequities in the system – the Board is confident this is the
right decision to make.
FVN obtained a copy of the original motion which was in camera and sent to media.
That the Chilliwack School Board reject any vaccine mandate or vaccine policy for all employees in the
district, and that the following rationale for this decision be posted on the district website and sent as a
press release to the media.
The Board of Education rejects any vaccine mandate or vaccine policy for staff or teachers in School
District 33 (Chilliwack) for the following reasons:
1) A vaccine mandate could promote discrimination against unvaccinated employees. This runs
contrary to district aims for professional, respectful, and supportive relations with all our
district partners & employees.
2) The Board rejects implementing a vaccine mandate that would see union members and
excluded staff receive a vaccination against their will. As “Partners in Education” this Board
values the contribution towards student achievement that union members and excluded staff
make in the district.
3) Collecting and tracking proof of vaccination may be a breach of privacy law. A vaccine
mandate would put in question the rights of District employees under the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, informed consent and medical autonomy. This Board supports the
freedom of our employees, as Canadian citizens, to not be forced to take vaccinations which
they wish not to take.
4) This Board may be subject to legal action for any vaccine injuries or death resulting from
mandated or coerced vaccinations.
5) The Board values ALL our staff equally, and is unwilling to implement a mandate that will
cause any staff member to leave their employment unnecessarily and against their will. We do
not want to create division, undermine unity, and compromise student achievement. This
Board is committed to stand together with all employees to create an educational system that
is safe, supportive, inclusive, and successful in achieving our district aim of high student