Letter sent by Linda Steele, Chair of the Board of Trustees to Stephen Leece, Minister of Education
September 7, 2021
The Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON
Dear Minister Lecce,
At the August 30, 2021 meeting of the London District Catholic School Board, the Board of Trustees approved the following motion:
On the motion of S. Cruz and M. Holmes that the Chair be directed to write a letter similar to Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board to the relevant parties regarding mandatory vaccinations.
The London District Catholic School Board of Trustees are requesting that the Province of Ontario mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff, eligible students and school visitors and strongly consider an amendment to the ISPA, including the COVID-19 vaccine within its mandatory immunization program.
Students in the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) have experienced significantly more disruption to in-person learning in the 2020-2021 school year.
Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tam has warned that Canada is at the beginning of the fourth wave of COVID-19 and the trajectory will depend on an ongoing increase in fully vaccinated coverage, timing, pace, and extent of reopening.
The Delta Variant, currently the dominant Variant of Concern (VOC), is known to be more contagious, more serious and more likely to result in infection, hospitalization and death.
Adult vaccination for COVID-19 helps to both protect those who are vaccinated and those students who are not eligible for vaccination, while reducing risk of virus transmission in schools.
Children, youth and the adult population can get infected with COVID-19, can spread COVID-19 and can have serious and long-term health consequences, as a result of the virus.
COVID-19 vaccinations provide high levels of effectiveness for preventing Covid-19 related hospitalization and death, including the highly transmissible Delta Variant and emerging Variants of Concern.
Ontario schools have mandated vaccines in the ISPA (Immunization of Schools Pupils Act) of designated diseases for children to attend school and require immunization against and requires proof of vaccination for the following: MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Meningococcal disease, Pertussis (Whooping Cough) and Varicella (Chickenpox).
Any COVID-19 vaccination mandate would necessitate an exemption policy on the basis of a documented medical reason, in compliance with Human Rights Legislation.
The LDCSB has a responsibility to uphold the health and safety of all staff, students and families and take all necessary precautions to protect those who are vulnerable.
The Ontario Chief Medical of Health, Dr. Moore, has indicated "that some organizations where a vast majority are not currently eligible to be vaccinated, will need to go beyond the minimum standard set by our directive", in order to protect the safety of others.
The Ministry of Education has advised school boards to create organizational plans based on regulation class size averages, which means a return to pre-COVID class sizes as boards prepare to reopen schools for the 2021-2022 year, in the midst of Wave 4 of the pandemic, and risks the safety of students and staff, and the long-term sustainability of schools remaining open during this school year.
For the above reasons: The LDCSB requests the Ministry of Education to mandate vaccinations for all staff, eligible students, and school visitors. The LDCSB formally requests consideration that the ISPA is amended to include COVID-19 within its mandatory immunization program. As a board dedicated to the health and well-being of students, families and our staff, the Ministry of Education vaccination mandate must include providing proof of first dose vaccination no later than September 30 with final deadline to be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine by October 30, 2021. Doing so would provide legislative support for the LDCSB and all school boards to enforce a stronger vaccination policy and protect our school communities.
LDCSB will request that the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA), petition the Ministry of Education about mandating COVID-19 vaccination for all staff, eligible students, and school visitors, on behalf of LDCSB (and share with other Catholic school boards). This advocacy will help ensure a consistent standard across Catholic school boards in Ontario.
Copies of this correspondence will be shared with: the Ministry of Health, local MPPs, Chairs of other Catholic School Boards, LDCSB District Catholic School Council and Parent Involvement Committee, and the LDCSB community.
LDCSB thanks and acknowledges the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board for their initiative, detailed motion and correspondence, and actively supports their position.
We thank you for your consideration of this critical health and safety matter.
Chair, Board of Trustees
London District Catholic School Board
Copies: Minister of Health, local MPPs, Chairs of Ontario Catholic School Boards, LDCSB PIC, LDCSB Community