Montreal

Vaccines won't be mandatory for teachers, school staff as Quebec COVID-19 situation improves

Quebec's Health Ministry says the province's epidemiological situation has improved and school outbreaks have been kept under control. As a result, the province has decided not to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for school staff.

Health Ministry says 90% of teachers, school staff in Quebec adequately vaccinated

The province says COVID-19 vaccines will not be mandatory for school staff. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

With the spread of COVID-19 in Quebec appearing to be under control, the province has decided not to impose vaccinations on school staff.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the province's Health Ministry said it strongly recommends staff get vaccinated, but it does not believe it is necessary to make it mandatory.

The Quebec government explored the idea of requiring vaccination for school employees during legislature hearings that were held in August.

Last month, Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's public health director, asked schools across the province to submit the personal data of their employees in order to measure the vaccination coverage in those institutions.

According to the ministry, the decision is based on the fact the epidemiological situation in Quebec is improving, outbreaks in schools have been controlled and the consequences of contracting the coronavirus are less serious among school-age children.

The ministry also says COVID-19 vaccination coverage is high in schools, with 90 per cent of staff in the public and private sectors considered to be adequately vaccinated.

"Since the return to class, the situation is being followed very closely by Public Health," the ministry said in a statement. 

"Elementary schools are equipped with rapid COVID-19 tests and the Education Ministry regularly meets with [representatives of] the network."

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said the recommendation sends "a message that our schools are safe."

In the health-care sector, the Quebec government has opted for a vaccination mandate.

Health-care workers have until Nov. 15 to get adequately vaccinated or else they will be suspended without pay.

Initially, health workers had until Oct. 15 to get their shots, but the province gave them an extra month because it feared a staffing crisis, with about 22,000 workers not adequately vaccinated at that time.

On Monday, Premier François Legault said the Nov. 15 deadline could also be pushed back.

 

With files from Cathy Senay

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