WRDSB trustees ask province to add COVID-19 vaccine to mandatory list

Trustees with the Waterloo Region District School Board plan to ask provincial officials to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory in schools.

Currently, anyone born in 2009 or earlier in Ontario can receive a Pfizer vaccine. Last week, Health Canada approved the Moderna vaccine for anyone 12 and older.

At a meeting on Monday night, trustees voted to send a letter to the Ministry of Education, requesting the COVID-19 vaccine be added to the list of mandatory vaccines required in schools.

However, the process to come to that vote wasn’t straightforward.

“We’re making decisions, we’re not consulting, we’re not talking to parents, we’re not talking to students, we’re not talking to student senate,” said Cindy Watson, a trustee for Cambridge/North Dumfries at the meeting.

Watson said she was upset the motion, which was put forward by Carol Millar, didn’t have a formal public consultation process.

The current list of mandatory vaccines includes polio, measles and mumps.

“It’s not a change to any processes that we are currently doing,” Millar said. “The only difference is we’re adding the COVID vaccine to the list of already mandatory vaccines that our students must have.”

The board received updated vaccination figures in their discussion on Monday night. Nearly 79 per cent of eligible students have received one dose and more than 67 per cent have both doses.

“I feel like the percentages of people in our community who have been vaccinated kind of speaks for itself,” Kitchener trustee Laurie Tremble said. “The vast majority of people in our community support vaccination and would likely support a motion like this.”

The motion was ultimately passed at Monday’s meeting.