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Hard fist of the TDSB: vaccine or dismissal

TORONTO – Teachers and staff of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 by November 1st may lose their jobs. 

The city’s school board has published in the “Covid-19 Mandatory Vaccine Procedure” its guidelines regarding the vaccination of the staff, which are stricter than those established by the province. “While acknowledging that the decision to immunize oneself is deeply personal… we have tried to balance this belief with the commitment to do our best to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff – said Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Director of Education of the TDSB – by reducing the number of positive cases of Covid-19 introduced in our schools, we are able to better protect our school communities and ensure less interruption to the study and well-being of children that arises from classroom attendance”.

The public authority said that 83% of its 40,000 staff members are currently vaccinated against the virus and that 94% of staff have disclosed personal information about their vaccination status as required since September 7.

The new TDSB rules apply to employees, trustees, school bus drivers and all those who come into direct contact with staff and students in school facilities. And these also include trainees, those who are doing an internship or participating in apprenticeship programs, volunteers, contractors, workers who provide services to children at school as health professionals and administrators of after-school programs.

Now, in short, it is serious. Ban on ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’: all people who have contact with children must be fully vaccinated by November 1st while new employees of the board must have received the two doses of vaccine before their first day of work.

Of course, exemptions for human rights reasons will be considered, but the school board has said that it will try in any case to protect the staff and health of its students: those who are exempt from the obligation of full vaccination will therefore have to continue to do rapid tests for Covid-19 at least twice a week, a rule currently in force for non-immunized staff. The directives have been clearly and unequivocally explained so that unorthodox methods of circumventing them are not allowed: failure to comply with the rules or a false declaration about vaccination could also lead to dismissal.

According to provincial rules, Ontario’s boards of directors have until September 27 to implement Covid-19 vaccination guidelines for staff.

Schools across the province opened their classrooms for in-person learning last week: mask rules are still in place, but provincial guidelines allow for more flexible rules in shared spaces such as canteens and for extracurricular activities.

Once again while the TDSB proceeds quickly in drawing up guidelines to ensure the greatest possible safety given the great contagiousness of the Delta variant, no official recommendations have been issued by the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB): tomorrow, however, the Catholic School Board of Toronto meets to listen to the opinion of a law firm contacted in order to know its responsibilities from the constitutional point of view, legal and inherent in the respect of human rights if it is decided to implement any restrictions.

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