DSBN says 87% of staff is fully vaxxed, and comments on St. Catharines moms' COVID concerns

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The DSBN says 87% of staff members are vaccinated against COVID-19 and its doing everything in its power to keep kids safe in the classroom.

The school board responding to allegations made by a St. Catharines mother who claims her child was exposed to the virus at school by an unvaccinated EA.

Haley Bateman sent a letter to the board saying she never imagined an unvaccinated individual would be in her child’s
kindergarten classroom, where masks are not required.

"Given that children this age are not required to wear masks, this is pure negligence on the part of the DSBN."

The DSBN released a statement to CKTB this afternoon saying additional health and safety measures are in place for kids who don't wear masks, and if a parent is concerned they should talk to their school's principal.

It also says it has advocated for vaccination since it became available in Niagara, and 87% of staff has been fully vaxxed.

The school says it also purchased additional tests for unvaccinated staff members to take.

Click here to see Bateman's letter to the school board. The board's full statement is below.

Statement from the DSBN

 With direction from the Ministry of Education, at the DSBN a child may only receive an exemption from wearing a mask for a medical reason. Families are required to submit a form to their school that affirms their child has a medical condition that precludes them from wearing a mask. A parent or guardian’s signature is mandatory to affirm the information they have submitted is truthful.

There are additional health and safety measures in place for students who have been exempt from wearing a mask in school. If a parent or guardian has concerns about the health and safety protocols in their child’s classroom, they should speak with their principal.

 Safety of students and staff is paramount to the work we do. In addition to the safety protocols we implemented last year and are continuing to enforce currently, this year we have enhanced our ventilation systems within our schools. Families can look at our system ventilation strategy, and also look up what was put into place at their child’s school. With our return to school, keeping students, staff, and their families as safe and as healthy as possible has been our primary focus, and we remain committed to it. We follow the direction of the Ministry of Education and our policies align with their guidelines.

 With respect to antigen testing, we went above and beyond the Ministry expectations by purchasing our own kits before the start of the school year, to ensure testing for all non-vaccinated staff would begin before the first day of school. Purchasing our own tests for non-vaccinated staff to access prior to receiving them from the province was not a requirement.

 We have advocated for vaccination since it became available in Niagara, promoting it to families and staff. We have supported families to overcome barriers that may have prevented them from getting vaccinated. This summer, we partnered with Niagara Region Public Health to improve access to vaccinations by running clinics in secondary schools to make it easier for students and families to get the vaccine in a place they are comfortable with.

 The DSBN has communicated regularly and transparently with families throughout the pandemic. Families and community members can access staff vaccination disclosure data, our standardized ventilation measures, as well as our COVID-19 Public Advisory, which shows schools where individuals have had a positive test result. Our schools are also communicating directly with families to ensure everyone stays informed. Whether it is about general health and safety protocols, or a case has been confirmed at their school, families will receive communication directly from their school principal.

 Continuing to follow the direction from the Ministry of Education, the aggregated and anonymized  vaccination status of DSBN staff is publicly available on our website. This data is a summary of the collective vaccination rates of all staff. Personal health information of staff is protected by privacy legislation, and as a result, we do not know the personal vaccination status of each individual staff member. Currently, a total of 87% of DSBN staff have attested to being fully vaccinated, and we are anticipating this number will rise.