No vaccination? No sports, Toronto school board tells students – TheRecord.com

Students aged 12 and up will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to play competitive sports in the new year, the Toronto District School Board says.

By Kristin RushowyQueen’s Park Bureau

Thu., Nov. 25, 20212 min. read

Students aged 12 and up will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to play competitive sports in the new year, the Toronto District School Board says.

In an email to parents that was sent out by schools starting Thursday, the board says “sports and other activities are important to students’ mental and physical health and overall school experience and (board) staff have been working over the past several weeks to safely reintroduce some school sports and teams.”

To that end, the board “has made a decision to require all students aged 12-plus to be fully vaccinated to participate in winter sports (e.g. basketball, ice hockey, swimming, etc.) that involve competition between schools, mixing of students and travel to other TDSB schools and/or external venues.”

For intramural sports, however, vaccination against COVID-19 “is recommended but not required at this time.

“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 email says.

“The TDSB decision also follows other school boards that require student vaccination to participate in sports.”

The board notes that vaccinations are required at many venues where students may be competing.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board said it is “strongly considering” a similar move.

Caitlin Clark, director of media relations for Education Minister Stephen Lecce, said Lecce “feels very strongly that reinstating sports and extracurriculars is critical, which is why sports are back in Ontario schools, and also why the government is extending free rapid antigen tests to school boards that require them for participation, to ensure these activities remain safe.”

The Toronto board also says now that COVID-19 vaccines are being given to five to 11-year-olds, “staff will continue to follow the guidance and recommendations provided by Toronto Public Health and establish any additional vaccination requirements for this age group as necessary.”

Last week, the provincial government announced a plan for voluntary, rapid tests for unvaccinated student athletes and coaches “prior to participating in high contact, indoor, extracurricular sports” such as basketball and hockey.

“It is important to note that rapid antigen screening is not a replacement for vaccination,” the province said in a memo to boards.