The Toronto District School Board says its employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1, 2021.
In a news release on Tuesday night, the TDSB outlined details of its COVID-19 mandatory vaccine policy, saying the procedure will be subject to approved requests for exemptions under the Human Rights Code of Ontario.
Until the deadline, those who are not vaccinated or have not disclosed their vaccination status must continue to undergo rapid antigen testing at home and provide proof of a negative result twice per week.
“This is an important step in the TDSB’s direction to keep students and staff as safe as possible during the pandemic,”Alexander Brown, the board’s chair, said in the release.
“By requiring staff, trustees and others to be vaccinated, we reduce the impact that COVID cases have on our classrooms, schools and communities.”
The policy applies to “employees, trustees, and other individuals who have direct contact with staff or students at a TDSB workplace,” the release says.
Employees who do not have a medical or disability exemption will be required to undertake an education session on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination.
The TDSB said it is collecting vaccination disclosure information of its more than 40,000 staff members because it is required to do by the Ontario education ministry. So far, about 83 per cent of staff have responded and 94 per cent of those who have answered indicated they are vaccinated.
Colleen Russell-Rawlins, the TDSB’s director of education, said the procedure is important.
“While we recognize that deciding to be vaccinated is a deeply personal one, we have strived to balance acknowledging that fact with doing our utmost to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff, while allowing a period of time for staff who have not yet received a vaccine to do so,” she said.
“By reducing the number of positive COVID-19 cases introduced to our schools, we are better able to protect our school communities and ensure fewer disruptions to student learning and well-being.”