COMMUNIQUÉ – August 25, 2021
While the employer tells us that more than 90% of our members have been vaccinated, the recent announcement made by the Government regarding the return to school plan and the requirement for vaccination has brought forward some concerns.
We understand that the fourth wave of the pandemic is growing in New Brunswick and although we are back in Green, the government must continue to adjust its plan to ensure the health and safety of students and staff in our schools. The NBTF remains in communication with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to obtain regular updates and raise the concerns of its members.
With respect to requirements for vaccination, the government recently approved a policy that requires GNB employees:
- to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19; or
- if they do not provide proof of full vaccination, wear a mask at work and be tested regularly for COVID-19 until they are fully vaccinated.
We have been informed that details surrounding testing will be provided by the employer.
The policy also requires that all new hires be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (except those who provide a medical certificate indicating exemption from the vaccine).
The effective date of these new measures for school teachers is August 30, 2021. As of this date, teachers will have 5 business days to provide proof of full vaccination. No copies of the medical record will be kept by the employer.
As this policy seems controversial for some of our members, the NBTF requested a legal opinion on the issue in order to know the rights and obligations of its members regarding such a measure under the collective agreement.
The NBTF does not intend to grieve the policy as the advice received was that the employer’s policy of requiring teachers to be fully vaccinated is reasonable in the context of COVID-19. The serious health and safety issues associated with COVID-19, the amount of information still unknown about its transmission and long-term effects, the prevalence of variants, and the impact of an outbreak in school communities would outweigh the invasion of teachers’ privacy. Moreover, the current circumstances see health officials stating that unvaccinated students are now a vulnerable population.
It is important to know that the implementation of vaccination measures are subject to the normal requirements: that the policy be clear, that teachers have a reasonable opportunity to comply, and that provisions be made for those seeking accommodations under the Human Rights Act, such as a medical exemption.
Teachers who choose not to get vaccinated and refuse to wear a mask and get tested will be subject to discipline by the employer.
Teachers who feel ostracized or bullied by colleagues, parents or students should inform their school principal.
We rely on the government to continue to work with public health experts to provide clear and consistent guidance to school districts, principals, teachers and families.
The NBTF has developed a Frequently Asked Questions document that provides additional information about the return to school and vaccination measures. We will update it as soon as new information is available. You can view it below.
We encourage you to submit your questions or concerns to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently Asked Questions
This answer has been modified following a conversation with EECD on September 1, 2021.
All Part II government employees, which include teachers, who are not vaccinated and who work with children will be subject to the same masking and testing requirements, whether or not they have a medical exemption.
Testing information will be provided by the employer.
This will be treated as an accommodation issue. You will have to consult your physician, provide proper medical information to the district (Health and Wellness Coordinator) and contact the NBTF should you require assistance.