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COVID Vaccines Required for CRCNA Staff

September 9, 2021

All Christian Reformed Church in North America staff who wish to work in either the Grand Rapids, Mich., or Burlington, Ont., offices will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This requirement is part of two new policies, one for Canadian and one for U.S. employees, that outline expectations for returning to work in the denominational offices following 18 months of primarily remote work. Other expectations include wearing masks, limiting the size of meetings, and maintaining physical distancing when possible.

“Our goal is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all staff and visitors to our building,” say both policies in their preambles. “Employers have a duty of care to ensure workplace safety of employees and visitors to the building. Vaccination against COVID-19 is the single most effective public health measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Its inclusion among the other public health measures (including physical distancing, capacity limits, and indoor mask use) is essential in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In Canada, the policy explains that “full vaccination against COVID-19 is mandatory for all employees and volunteers entering the Burlington building.” Exemptions to this policy will generally not be granted, but if staff are not currently fully vaccinated, they will be permitted to continue working remotely while Ontario remains in stage three of reopening.

If an unvaccinated employee does have an urgent need to go into the office, specific rules to guide their behavior have been established.

In the U.S. the policy differs slightly. It extends beyond physical presence in the denominational offices to also include all employees (of CRCNA ministries paid through the Grand Rapids office) "in the United States, regardless of location, who will be . . . physically interacting with any staff, volunteers, donors, or other constituents.”

U.S. staff who wish not to be vaccinated may seek a medical or religious exemption. Proof of vaccination or completed exemption forms are required by October 15, or the staff member will be placed on unpaid leave.

Neither of these policies relate to staff of individual CRCNA congregations or classes.

“We know that COVID vaccination is a widely discussed and debated topic, and we know that there are some who are opposed to it,” said Colin Watson, executive director of the CRCNA. “For CRCNA staff, the decision came down to ensuring that we live into our values. We believe it is important to show love to our neighbors and to protect the vulnerable among us. Asking staff to be vaccinated if they are in our buildings or interacting with others is one way that we can do that.”