Heated debate at WRDSB meeting over enhancing staff vaccination reporting

Tensions flared at a Waterloo Region District School Board Meeting on Monday over a motion for staff to look at ways to enhance employee vaccination reporting.

The heated debate saw some trustees resisting a move to table or even discuss the idea of expanding reporting above and beyond the province's requirements.

On Sept. 13, school board trustees approved a motion for "the director of education explore possible avenues for enhancing the COVID vaccine reporting system for WRDSB employees beyond the vaccine reporting requirements established by the province of Ontario."

The motion also outlined consultation with others, including unions and Waterloo Region Public Health.But at Monday night's meeting, trustee Mike Ramsay noted he wasn't present at the original meeting when the motion was passed and argued it should be deferred or deemed null due to procedural issues.

Ramsay also called the motion frivolous.

"We are polarizing our community, we are pitting employees against employees, pitting parents against parents. For what? To exceed something or try to exceed something that the province has already given a directive on," he said at the meeting.

Some trustees agreed with Ramsay.

"People are concerned about their livelihood," board chair Cindy Watson said at the meeting. "Think about the motions you are putting forward or the information you are asking for. Is it building community? Is it building relationships? Is it building trust? Because everyone is hanging by a thread."

At the end of the discussion, a majority of the trustees voted to have the information presented to the board.

"When this motion was discussed last week was that we were gathering information, we were not making any decisions, we were simply asking staff to gather information so that we could, down the road, make decisions," trustee Carol Millar said at the meeting.

WRDSB staff will continue their work and the motion will be further discussed or brought to the board at next month's meeting.

According to the WRDSB's website, 98.9 per cent of staff have disclosed their COVID-19 immunization status, with 91.6 per cent of those fully vaccinated.