Toronto public-school teachers, staff could lose job if not fully vaccinated

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Toronto public school teachers and staff must be given two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by November 1 or face disciplinary action that may include termination of their employment.

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Toronto District School Board staff told trustees in a meeting Tuesday that employees can submit requests for accommodations or exemptions, in which case they should be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

The vaccination policy of Canada’s largest school board comes as the more-transmissible delta version of the coronavirus threatens to disrupt a third year of schooling and activities for students. Children under 12 are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, and in just a few days of the academic year, Ontario is reporting 328 active cases in schools.

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Audley Salmon, executive superintendent of staff services at TDSB, said the board wants to provide “reasonable time” for school staff to be fully vaccinated.

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The TDSB policy document states that this requirement applies to all school board employees, including supply teachers and casual education staff, as well as school board trustees and bus drivers.

“Individuals who fail to comply with this procedure may be subject to administrative or disciplinary action, including dismissal from their jobs,” the document said.

The TDSB policy states that the board will consider requests for exemptions and “reasonable accommodation” under the Human Rights Code.

“However, this duty to accommodate must be balanced against the Board’s obligations to protect the health and safety of staff and students. Because of the serious health threat COVID-19 presents to the public, if a person is not vaccinated on grounds protected under the code, they may submit a request for accommodation or exemption for medical or religious reasons, according to the TDSB can do. Policy.

Trustees last month voted for the TDSB to require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and to develop an employee policy. On Monday, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board of Trustees passed a resolution calling for all employees to be fully immunized by November 30, unless they have exemptions or accommodations. Board spokesman Sean McKillop said for non-compliant employees, “a phased approach would be to educate and reconsider.” The employees may also have to face discipline, he said.

Earlier this month, the Ottawa-Carlton District School Board of Trustees passed a resolution requiring all teachers and staff to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before September 30, as long as they had a medical or religious Do not have accommodation Spokesperson Darcy Knoll said in an e-mail that those with approved exemptions may be required to participate in a vaccine education program and undergo routine testing as required by the province.

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He said workers who do not want to be vaccinated and do not have housing will face additional measures, including unpaid leave.

“Employees who have not been vaccinated and who do not begin the vaccine process by 30 September will be subject to additional employment conditions/restrictions, which may include being placed on leave without pay,” Mr Knoll said.

The province has not mandated vaccination for education workers, although individual school boards are permitted to do so.

The provincial government has instead asked school boards to tell their employees about their vaccination status to employers. In a memo sent Monday to education directors, Deputy Education Minister Nancy Naylor wrote that school workers who have not been fully vaccinated must provide verification of a negative test twice a week. Schools will distribute rapid test kits to be used at home 48 hours before they return to work, Ms Naylor wrote. As school boards wait for their supplies, the government has temporarily authorized pharmacies to provide rapid tests to school staff.

Regina Bateson, a mother of three in Ottawa, said she is disappointed that the province is absent in requiring vaccinations for those working in schools, especially because children under the age of 12 have yet to receive COVID-19 shots. are not eligible. “I was surprised by the amount of decision-making on these key policies imposed on school boards,” she said.

Ms Bateson said she was happy that her school board of trustees required vaccinations, adding that decisions should have been made much earlier than needed for the start of the academic year. “It would have been better to have it all in place now,” she said.

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