OCDSB votes for mandatory masks in kindergarten but mandatory vaccines need final approval

OTTAWA — Ottawa’s largest school board has yet to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for staff, though trustees supported a motion to do so before running out of time at a board meeting Tuesday night.

Trustees with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) supported a motion in favour of mandatory vaccinations for staff, but it still needs final approval at a special board meeting. Tuesday’s meeting did not continue after reaching the 11 p.m. deadline as trustee Donna Blackburn voted against extending it.

Tuesday’s meeting followed a meeting the week before to discuss pandemic protocols. 

Once the policy does have final approval, it is scheduled to come into effect Sept. 30 and the board would work with Ottawa Public Health and other local health partners to develop a strategy and protocol requiring staff be fully vaccinated.

The board says it would comply with human rights exemptions, such as medical or religious reasons.

The Ontario government requires publicly-funded school board employees to disclose vaccination status by Sept. 7. Staff who are not fully vaccinated will face rapid antigen testing requirements.

Masks mandatory for kindergarten

Some new policies were approved Tuesday, including mandating COVID-19 vaccines for volunteers and making masks mandatory in kindergarten, becoming the last of Ottawa’s four school boards to go beyond the provincial mandate of only recommending masks for the youngest learners.

The first day of school in the OCDSB is Sept. 9. The board is Ottawa’s largest, with more than 70,000 students and 9,000 staff at 142 schools. 

Correction:

A previous version of this story indicated the board voted to create a policy to require staff be vaccinated. The trustees voted in favour of a motion to require staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It still needs final approval at a special Board meeting. 

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