No mandatory vaccinations at school board but staff will need regular testing

Vaccine clinics will be available at schools

By Kirk Winter

There will be no mandatory vaccinations for staff or students for COVID-19 at the Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

The local board takes direction on vaccination policy from the Ministry of Health – and the Ontario government has been steadfast in its opposition to mandatory vaccines or vaccine passports.

“Vaccinations for students and staff are not mandatory,” Hahn told trustees at the most recent board meeting. However, “staff who remain unvaccinated must have a medical exemption and will be COVID tested on a regular basis.”

Trustee John Byrne wanted to know from Hahn if staff who refuse vaccination will have to participate in a vaccine education program. Byrne was told that the board is waiting for direction from the Ministry of Education on that piece of the protocol, but he expects the answer will be yes.

Both local teachers unions are supportive of mandatory vaccinations in schools saying in a joint press release they “believe that everyone working in, or attending a school who is eligible and can safely be vaccinated should be vaccinated.”

The unions added a caveat however stating, “Any mandatory vaccination program must include provisions that ensure that those who are unable to be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons receive the required employment accommodations and are not disadvantaged in anyway.”

“Individuals who are exempt for reasons due to statements of conscience, or are not vaccinated, must be required to take  additional precautions for their own safety and that of those around them including regular testing, using additional PPE, ensuring distancing requirements are met and adhering to other safety protocols.”

Craig Horsley, president of District 15 of OSSTF added, “I would like to see as many layers of protection in place to keep staff and students safe…and vaccination is just one of those layers as well as proper ventilation, smaller class sizes, comprehensive cohorting and testing. The current board policy for vaccination disclosure aligns well with OSSTF on the topic.”

When asked how many teachers this new policy might affect, Horsely said due to privacy issues OSSTF does not have that information but, “generally speaking our members are no different than the public on what can be a very divisive topic, so I suspect the numbers will be similar to the general public but again I have no data to support that.”

Hahn also informed trustees that public health will be using secondary schools in TLDSB in September to host vaccine clinics.

“TLDSB is encouraging students to be vaccinated. It is clear that cases that are on the rise come from the unvaccinated,” Hahn said. “We want staff and students to be safe and kids to stay in the classroom.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.