November 29th, 2021

Catholic school board passes vaccine mandate in squeaker of a vote

By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on October 13, 2021.

In a three-to-two vote, the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education decided Tuesday during its public board meeting that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be put into effect for all staff and educators.

Once the policy is enacted, any adult employed by or working within the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education will be required to either show proof of vaccination or show negative COVID-19 test results on a weekly basis.

The mandate is not applicable to students.

The vaccination mandate was proposed by trustee David Leahy and was motivated by a recent letter sent from the ministers of health and education to all school divisions in Alberta, encouraging proof of vaccination or regular COVID testing for all adults in schools.

The mandate – pending wording amendments – was supported by trustees Leahy and Peter Grad, and chairman of the board of trustees, Dick Mastel. It was not supported by trustee Kathy Glasgo nor vice-chairman Robert Risling, who called the mandate “punitive, discriminative and divisive,” and expressed concern over the possible invasion of privacy.

“This is not an easy decision,” said Mastel while addressing the board. “(However) there’s an issue here of the greater good.”

He went on to say, “If you look at this from a scriptural point of view, scripture speaks very little about personal rights and personal freedoms, but it speaks volumes about looking out for our neighbours.”

Leahy added, “The Province of Alberta, in good faith, has asked us to do this. I don’t like the fact that we’re being asked to make medical decisions (but) bottom line, I think this will potentially save lives.”

The board will finish drafting the vaccination policy this week. The date of implementation is yet to be announced.

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