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Stricter TVDSB COVID-19 vaccine policy up for debate Sept. 8

FILE. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

Classes will already be underway when the Thames Valley District School Board hears a motion that would require stricter COVID-19 vaccination requirements than are currently in place.

In the meantime, director of education Mark Fisher tells Global News that he is strongly encouraging all staff members to get vaccinated, as well as students who are eligible.

“The more people that are vaccinated, the safer our schools will be,” he said.

“Our trustees are bringing forward a motion on Sept. 8 at our board meeting that would mandate all education workers, all workers in the Thames Valley District School Board to be fully vaccinated. And that will be debated next week and a decision will be made next week.”

Read more: Education group wants COVID-19 vaccination required for eligible Ontario students

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The motion, from Trustee Corrine Rahman, would require the board to develop a mandatory vaccination policy for all employees, trustees and frequent visitors as well as “a course of action to be taken should an individual refuse to comply with this policy.”

Currently, through requirements from the Ministry of Education, staff who choose not to be vaccinated must participate in an educational session and comply with weekly testing during their personal time.

Rahmans’ motion also requests that a letter be written to local health officials, provincial health officials, and the Minister of Education “affirming that the board supports COVID-19 vaccines be added to the list of compulsory vaccinations for all eligible students, as advocated by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.”

The list of vaccinations made compulsory, with some exemptions, is through the Immunization of School Pupils Act. Rahman’s motion also recognizes exemption from vaccination for medical reasons and aims to “comply with all human rights legislation.”

Read more: COVID-19: TVDSB outlines changes for 2021-22 school year

At a board meeting Aug. 31, Middlesex-London Health Unit and Southwestern Public Health medical officers of health Dr. Chris Mackie and Dr. Joyce Lock, respectively, gave a joint presentation on the state of the pandemic in Middlesex, Elgin, and Oxford counties.

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In responding to a question from Rahman about mandating vaccination, Mackie stressed that “there’s no doubt that the stronger your vaccination policy around COVID vaccines, the more infections you’re going to prevent.”

“We’re really in a situation where, because Delta spreads so easily, we believe that everyone is going to either get vaccinated or infected,” he said.

Lock added that she’s hopeful that COVID-19 vaccines will “eventually make its way into the Immunization of School Pupils Act and that mandatory vaccination policies will be a requirement within the school setting.”

“Our mutual interest is to ensure that we can keep our schools open and keep our children in class.”

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