TORONTO -- All Toronto District School Board students ages 12 and up must be fully vaccinated to take part in competitive winter sports, including basketball, hockey, and swimming, the school board confirmed Friday.

In a statement, the TDSB said that students will need both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to participate in sports that involve competition between schools, mixing of students, and travel to other TDSB schools and/ or external venues.

For sports that occur within their school and only with students from their school, it is recommended that participants are vaccinated but vaccination is not required.

“Sports and other activities are important to students’ mental and physical health and overall school experience and TDSB staff have been working over the past several weeks to safely re-introduce some school sports and teams. Many families, students and staff have had questions regarding the re-introduction of sports and student vaccination,” the school board’s statement read.

“This decision is consistent with recommendations from Toronto Public Health and has been made with the health and safety of students and staff in mind, as getting vaccinated helps ensure strong protection against COVID-19. The TDSB decision also follows other school boards that require student vaccination to participate in sports.”

The TDSB noted that many competitions and finals occur in venues where a vaccine mandate already exists and in instances where students attend those facilities, they will need to show proof of vaccination to enter the building.

“Students will be required to upload proof of vaccination to the Service Now App (see instructions below) to participate on any inter-school team,” the TDSB added.

“In rare cases where a student is unable to be vaccinated, we will work with Toronto Public Health and staff to develop a process to support these students so they can safely participate where possible.”

This week, the province began rolling out its vaccination program for children ages five to 11 following Health Canada’s approval of Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

The TDSB said it will “continue to follow the guidance and recommendations provided by Toronto Public Health” and will implement additional vaccination requirements for younger students if it is deemed necessary.