Horizon School Division passes vaccination policy, parents unaffected

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The Horizon School Division is implementing its own COVID-19 vaccination policy, joining other divisions in southern Alberta with requirements already in place. Erik Bay has details on the Horizon Division’s new rules. – Dec 9, 2021

Beginning Dec. 18, Horizon School Division staff will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test twice a week before attending class, more than one month after other school divisions’ regulations came into effect.

“We took the policy process and typically within that process, you put together a first draft that goes to the board of trustees,” Horizon superintendent Wilco Tymensen said. “It then goes for public consultation.”

But the new policy won’t affect everyone entering a Horizon school building.

Read more: Catholic school division in Lethbridge demands vaccine mandate in letter to premier

“Employees of the building, who are in the building with kids or whether it’s volunteers working with kids, (the policy) would apply to them. But parents coming in for a one-on-one meeting with a teacher or dropping off their kids, it would not apply to them,” Tymensen said.

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That differs from other COVID-19 rules, like at the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division, which mandates all visitors must comply.

Lethbridge School Division only provides parents an exemption if they are attending a facility related to their child’s education and there are no students present.

Tymensen said the decision was made after gathering feedback from parents as part of the division’s policy process.

“They had some concerns around not being able to come into the building at all,” he said.

Read more: 2 Lethbridge school districts announce different back-to-school plans

Horizon will also be providing COVID-19 tests for unvaccinated staff – for an undetermined period of time – even though the policy states testing will be done ‘at the employee’s own cost in accordance with this administrative procedure.’

“They may live an hour and a half away from a pharmacy and so it’s not only paying for the cost of the test, but there’s actually a three-hour drive associated with that, so we recognized that the issue may lie outside the employee,” Tymensen said.

Global News asked both the public and Catholic school divisions in Lethbridge for an update on their vaccine mandates, including the percentage of staff who are fully vaccinated.

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Neither division provided that update, with the public division citing a desire to keep the process as confidential as possible.

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