Toronto District School Board reveals details of new mandatory vaccine policy

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has laid out exactly how it will implement its new mandatory vaccination policy.

The school board released an 11-page document Tuesday evening, titled ‘COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccine Procedure,’ revealing key dates, disciplinary measures and exemption protocols for its new policy.

The policy applies to all school board employees, including daily and long-term occasional teachers and casual education workers, school board trustees and student transportation drivers.

According to the document, all TDSB employees were required to disclose their vaccination status by Sept. 7th. They now have until Nov. 1 to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The TDSB said roughly 94 per cent of staff responded to the survey and of those who did respond, about 83 per cent indicated that they had been fully vaccinated.

Until Nov. 1, those who are not yet fully vaccinated will have to comply with regular COVID-19 testing and provide proof of a negative result to attend a TDSB workplace. The tests will be provided to individuals at no cost, the board says.

Staff who are not fully vaccinated or who have not disclosed their vaccination status must complete a mandatory education program supplied by the Ontario government no later than two weeks after the TDSB provides access to the program.

The education program will be provided as a video by the Ministry of Education. Staff will be required to review the video outside of working hours.

Staff undergoing the education program are still required to meet the full vaccination requirement by Nov. 1, says the board.

This policy also extends to those who visit board premises frequently, such as students on educational placements, individuals on internships, co-op placements, or apprenticeship programs, volunteers, permit holders and contractors, those who provide professional services to children at school and “other members of organizations not related to the board but who nevertheless work on or are invited onto board premises,” says the board.

The school board says it will provide exemptions on the basis of medical, disability or religious reasons.

“An employee who is requesting an exemption on the basis of a medical condition must provide the Board’s Disability Management Office with a letter from a licenced physician or registered nurse practitioner ... clearly stating the reason why the individual should be exempted from receiving a vaccine, and duration of such exemption,” the document reads.

A specific diagnosis or disclosure of a medical condition is not required except under “exceptional circumstances or where necessary in order to provide accommodation,” says the board.

According to the document, this letter must have been provided before Sept. 7 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Those who fail to comply with the new protocol may be subject to “administrative or disciplinary action, up to and including termination from their employment,” says the board.

Toronto District School Board Director of Education, Colleen Russell-Rawlins, took to social media Tuesday evening to address the new protocols.

“While we recognize that deciding to be vaccinated is a deeply personal one, by reducing the number of positive COVID-19 cases introduced into our schools, we are better able to protect our school communities and ensure fewer disruptions to student learning and well-being,” Russell-Rawlins wrote. 

While we recognize that deciding to be vaccinated is a deeply personal one, by reducing the number of positive COVID-19 cases introduced into our schools, we are better able to protect our school communities and ensure fewer disruptions to student learning and well-being. https://t.co/HKa2rFPLiy

— Colleen Russell-Rawlins (@TDSBDirector) September 15, 2021