More than 900 TDSB staff are working in schools while waiting on vaccine exemptions
TORONTO -- More than 900 unvaccinated Toronto District School Board (TDSB) employees are working with students past the board’s deadline while awaiting vaccine exemptions.
According to the school board, 920 unvaccinated staff are still in schools with children. While the board posts the vaccination status of their staff publicly online, they have not previously disclosed information on how many of these employees are still working in schools.
In total, 1,093 staff members have asked for medical or creed-based exemptions to the TDSB's vaccine policy. Staff had until Nov. 19 to get their first dose of COVID-19, and until Dec. 19 to receive their second to be considered fully vaccinated.
TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said that reviewing medical and creed-based exemption requests is “complex” and is taking longer than anticipated. “Final decisions on many of these requests will be shared in the upcoming weeks,” Bird said.
In many cases, Bird said the process requires the board to “gather more information from the employees.”
As of Nov. 25., the TDSB had approved four medical exemption requests and zero creed-based requests, according to data on staff vaccination status.
“It’s important to note that any unvaccinated staff member must meet the Ministry of Education requirement to conduct rapid antigen testing three times per week,” Bird said.
At the moment, there is no indication that COVID-19 cases discovered in Toronto schools are linked to unvaccinated staff members, Bird said. “We're making sure that we're keeping track of those staff and they're testing to make sure that they aren't sick when they're coming in.”
According to the TDSB, over 88 per cent of their staff members are fully vaccinated.
“As we move through this process that number will continue to go up,” Bird said.
Anyone who applied for a medical exemption and is denied will have 45 days from when they were denied to get a vaccine dose, and will have to get tested bi-weekly during that time.