New COVID rules for schools - Students, staff and visitors to Kipling School must now provide a proof of vaccine or negative test to enter the facility. The new rules come as part of Prairie Valley School Division’s new COVID protocols which were introduced last week.

Prairie Valley School Division has announced that a new Administrative Procedure is being implemented requiring all staff members to provide Proof of Vaccination or a negative COVID test (which will be required each week).
The new procedure also applies to other individual who are going into PVSD facilities and will be interacting with students for a sustained period of time.
Luc Lerminiaux (Director of Education PVSD) says that the decision to implement the procedure was a difficult one.
“This was a difficult decision for us, because it involves an individual’s personal decisions about an issue pertaining to their health. But our goal is to offer our students the best education and the best school experience possible within a safe environment. We felt that this procedure would best ensure our ability to do that.”
Lerminiaux goes on to say that while the PVSD procedure was prompted by the mandates enacted by the Provincial Government, the decision to implement this procedure was made entirely by the PVSD Board and Administration.
“The Provincial Government did encourage school divisions to consider implementing this type of procedure. But this was a decision that we made as an independent School Division. The government did not have any involvement in our discussions. And this decision is not in any way related to funding from the government. There are no ‘strings attached’ to this decision.”
He adds that other School Divisions in the province are also moving towards implementing similar procedures, and several have already done so.
“On October 4th we were one of eight school divisions to announce that we would be moving forward with this procedure. At this point, I can’t confirm that all 27 school divisions in Saskatchewan have made the same decision. But I can confirm that the majority of them have.”
Lerminiaux explains that the new Administrative Procedure took effect on October 14th with testing requirement set to begin on November 1st and will apply to full-time and part-time staff.
“We have approximately 1200 full-time teachers and staff members, along with about 300 substitute teachers and other part-time staff. So, this will apply to about 1,500 staff members in total.
The Administrative Procedure states that all PVSD staff will disclose their vaccination status and provide Proof of Vaccination to Human Resources through an approved process.
Any staff member who is not vaccinated, or who is either unable or unwilling to disclose their vaccination status, will be required to complete valid COVID self-testing the first working day of each week, beginning on November 1st. That test result will then be presented to the principal, their immediate supervisor or another designated official.”
He goes on to explain that PVSD will make the required tests available to staff until the end of December.
“PVSD will be providing Rapid Antigen Tests to staff who require them until Dec.31, 2021.
Staff will not be using the tests that the Saskatchewan Health Authority are providing as part of the ‘Test to Protect’ program. Those tests are being given out to families with children aged 11 and younger, as well as other individuals, to provide peace of mind to those individuals. The schools are assisting SHA with this and acting solely as distribution centers for these tests.
After December 31st, staff who are choosing to self-test will have to purchase Rapid Antigen Test Kits (or whichever test has been approved by Health Canada at that point) on their own.”
Lerminiaux notes that the procedure will also apply to individuals, who will be coming into a school or other PVSD facility, and interacting with students for a sustained period of time.
“For example, if an individual is coming in to give a presentation to students in their classroom, or to help at the library or with a particular project, then this would apply to them, because they are going to be interacting with students at close proximity for a sustained period of time.
Similarly, if somebody is coming into the school for a special event such as a Science Fair, this would also apply to them.
This is because typically, a student would be standing beside their project at a science fair and explaining all of the things they’ve learned about their project to people coming in to see it. This means that the student will be standing quite close to those individuals and interacting with them.
Therefore, to provide the safest possible environment for our students…people coming in to attend an event like that would have to provide Proof of Vaccination or a negative COVID test.”
However, Lerminiaux stresses the policy will not apply to people coming into the school, who are not going to be interacting with students.
“We don’t want this procedure to interfere with normal flow at the school. So, for example, this procedure doesn’t apply to a parent who is coming in to pick up or drop off their child.
Likewise, it will not apply to spectators who are coming in to watch a volleyball game or attend an event like a band concert or drama night. In those situations, students will be on stage or on the volleyball court and won’t be in close proximity to spectators. So, people coming into the school for something like that will only be required to mask.
There are also a variety of community groups that use our facilities. This procedure will apply to some of those groups. For example, it would apply to an organization like a pre-school. But it wouldn’t apply to a group like a Men’s Volleyball League. In those cases, the group would only be required to follow the procedures set out by whatever governing body is involved.”
Lerminiaux stresses that PVSD is not attempting to coerce staff members into making the decision to vaccinate.
“We are not trying to ‘force’ anyone to get the vaccine. We support vaccination as an effective tool in limiting spread of COVID 19 and helping to ensure the people don’t become seriously ill if they are infected. So, we encourage our staff and others to get vaccinated.
But this Administrative Procedure is not a punitive measure. We have put the testing requirement in place as part of this procedure, so that we can accommodate those individuals who are either unable or unwilling to vaccinate.”
Ultimately, Lerminiaux says that this Administrative Procedure is being implemented to protect students, while allowing individuals the freedom to make their decisions about their own health.
“We really want to respect people’s right to make their own personal choice in this. We are not trying to force people to go one way or the other. But, our top priority is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students, while still allowing them to have the best school experience that they can.
It’s really about trying to achieve a balance between safety and keeping in-person learning going as long as possible. We can’t go back to a situation where we have no restrictions. And we are trying to avoid a situation where in-person learning can’t continue.
So, we are trying to create conditions which ensure that our schools are as safe as they can possibly be, while enabling our staff to continue providing in-person learning to our students.”

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