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TDSB announces mandatory vaccine policy for all education staff

Last Updated Sep 15, 2021 at 3:26 pm EDT

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has announced mandatory vaccine requirements for all staff to keep education workers, students, and families safe.

Releasing details Tuesday evening, the TDSB said all employees, trustees, and those who have direct contact with staff and students at its workplace must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1 of this year – adding “subject to approved requests for exemptions under the Human Rights Code.”

“While we recognize that deciding to be vaccinated is deeply personal … we have strived to balance acknowledging that fact with doing our utmost to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff,” Colleen Russell-Rawlins, the board’s director of education, said in a statement Tuesday night.

Failure to comply with the policy or giving false statements about being vaccinated could lead to termination from employment.

Exemptions on human rights grounds will be considered but the board said it would balance its duty to accommodate against its obligations to protect staff and students’ health. Those who are exempt from the full vaccination requirement will have to continue taking rapid COVID-19 tests at least twice a week, a rule that’s currently in place for unvaccinated staff.

On Tuesday, Toronto Public Health said it’s investigating and conducting contact tracing at nearly two dozen schools.

The TDSB is collecting vaccination disclosure information from its 40,000 staff members, it said, and around 94 per cent of the staff who have provided that information, which is about 83 per cent, have indicated they have rolled up their sleeves.

The TDSB’s rules apply to employees, trustees, bus drivers and others who come in direct contact with staff and students in the workplace.

They also cover people on educational placements, internships or apprenticeships programs, volunteers, contractors, workers providing services to children at school like health professionals and after-school program administrators.

Near the end of August, the TDSB said the board provided direction to staff to begin creating a mandatory vaccine procedure.

“This is an important step in the TDSB’s direction to keep students and staff as safe as possible during the pandemic. By requiring staff, Trustees, and others to be vaccinated, we reduce the impact that COVID cases have on our classrooms, schools and communities,” TDSB Chair, Alexander Brown, said in a statement.

Boards in Ontario have until Sept. 27 to implement COVID-19 vaccination policies for staff under provincial rules.