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Vaccine chaos, unimmunized teachers and undecided parents

TORONTO – Up to 50,000 education workers in Ontario could be laid off if Covid-19 vaccines were mandatory for this sector that already faces staffing issues. This was said by the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. “I think we need to be realistic and ensure that every member of staff who comes into our school undergoes a double test, a negative antigen test, to ensure that they are safe, to make sure that there are staff in our schools and that children can continue to go to school every day,” Lecce said.

The figure of 50,000 includes education workers such as teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators, principals, staff of the school board, occasional staff and janitors, who are not vaccinated or do not reveal their status. “We expect absolute compliance with our directive, approved by the medical director of health, otherwise those staff must not enter in Ontario schools,” Minister spokeswoman Caitlin Clark said in a statement.

Currently more than 85% of the staff employed in schools have received the two doses, while the remaining 15% have declared that they are not fully vaccinated, that they are exempt for medical reasons or have not wanted to make their vaccination status public.

And staff seems to be the sore point even for superintendents such as the Toronto District Scchool Board (TDSB) who have decided to adopt stricter policies that also include the dismissal of those who will not be immunized.

Today, in fact, the public school board of the city declared that it wanted to extend by almost three weeks the deadline of November 2 for the vaccination: at the moment the TDSB is having to deal with employees who do not answer the questions asked them and with a high number of medical exemptions.

In a newsletter distributed by the school trustee Shelley Laskin, the TDSB states that at the moment only employees who have not completed a confirmation form that proves the vaccination occurred or who do not undergo the rapid antigen test for Covid-19, from November 2 will be put on unpaid leave.

In addition to the issue of mandatory Covid vaccines for staff, parents must face another delicate issue: as soon as the green light from Health Canada arrives, they will have to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children.

Meanwhile, while the government is working to finalize its plan to distribute the vaccine to children between the ages of 5 and 11, premier Ford has sided with parents who hesitate to have their children inoculated with the vaccine. “I will let the parents decide whether to vaccinate children who are five to 11 years old. Do we want to get them vaccinated? Yes. But there are some parents who, despite being immunized, are a little hesitant about vaccinating children who may be five or six years old. I understand them perfectly,” Ford said.

Meanwhile, 90 infections were reported in schools today: 85 students and 5 teachers. There are 533 schools with one or more active infections of the virus, two of them are closed.

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