TORONTO — The Toronto District School Board is granting temporary exemptions for roughly 290 unvaccinated staff who otherwise would be placed on administrative leave until it can find temporary staff to fill their positions.
In a memo sent to families Monday, the school board said it continues to implement its COVID-19 vaccination procedure to support the health and safety of students, staff and school communities.
The vaccine policy states that staff who have disclosed they are not vaccinated are to be placed on non-disciplinary administrative leave without pay, effective Monday.
As part of this plan, the board said it's relying on occasional or casual staff to fill in for unvaccinated workers, but, like other school boards across Ontario, it is "seeing lower levels of occasional/casual staff taking available jobs."
In an effort to ensure there is "minimal impact on students’ learning, well-being and safety," the TDSB said it's granting temporary exemptions to about 290 staff out of the approximately 620 unvaccinated workers until it can "adequately fill these positions on a case-by-case basis."
The rest of the unvaccinated staff have been placed on administrative leave.
The majority of those who received a temporary exemption are school-based staff such as special needs assistants, designated early childhood educators and lunchroom supervisors, who supervise students including those with additional needs and/or provide safety or health-related support.
"We know this is an incredibly challenging time for the staff impacted by this procedure, but we are doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff," the TDSB said.
The board noted that all staff, including those with temporary exemptions, are continuing to meet all Ministry of Education requirements including regular rapid antigen testing three times per week for the unvaccinated.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press