Delay comes days after provincial Liberals announced that they’d approve legislation to outlaw non-compliance
The province of Ontario has delayed implementing a public-school vaccination requirement for Toronto students in grade 1 by a month.
The province announced Thursday that they’d approve legislation to outlaw non-compliance within just two weeks and that most students would start the 2018-19 school year without coverage.
That move comes just days after Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal party announced that it’d back emergency legislation to get rid of the current policy. The opposition New Democrats also pledged to make it law this year.
Toronto is the first city in the country to move to a mandatory vaccination policy, and this debate has divided parents.
Here’s a look at how the policy affects each student.
How the policy affects children in Toronto:
The policy starts on Oct. 2, at what seems like a strange juncture of late: Easter Sunday.
According to the school board, students are required to start school that day if they don’t have vaccinations.
“If no vaccine is available, a child who does not receive a vaccine at this time will be allowed to report to school on October 2, 2018 — one month after the vaccine mandate starts for students,” the board said in a statement.
Only ones in Grade 1 who’ve been born before Nov. 1 of the previous year will be considered exempt, according to Toronto District School Board policy.
What’s meant by non-compliance?
According to the province’s Sunshine Law website, a person who fails to vaccinate his/her child “not by reason of a perceived belief in the measles virus or refusal to comply with instructions provided by an authority of Canada or another State under the Immunization Laws of Canada or of another State under the Immunization Law of another State or country or other effect, but because the applicant is ignorant of the vaccine requirement, incompetent to make the decision or unauthorized to use the immunization program.”
The province of Ontario has remained mum on the exact number of students on the hook for any exemptions that are possible, but called it “quite a small group” in a release. According to CNN, the majority of exemptions come from religious concerns.
It’s unclear how many people have been forced to sit out school for non-compliance, but the Toronto District School Board said the “totality of the situation will be seen in October,” and that the typical student who’s missing school on the day doesn’t have the shots they need.
How much will it cost?
According to a statement, a contingency plan would provide adequate training and resources for staff. If an exemption is required, the commissioner will work with a provincial human services agency to refer the student to a program to have the child attend school under their care.
At the time the policy was put in place, the Toronto District School Board’s director, Chris Spence, said the cost of the policy would be between $50,000 and $75,000 per year.
What are schools doing right now?
While it’s unclear what kind of penalty will be issued to violators, the Toronto District School Board’s director of education, Chris Spence, noted that there are requirements they must follow to be able to refer children to a program if an exemption is required. He said a lot of this work has already been done, including training staff.
“We have been preparing for the waivers of the policy. As of today, there are 3,399 children enrolled in grades 1 to 8 who have had a preliminary exemption and are allowed to continue attending school without a vaccine requirement. It is our hope that these students will comply with our policies in the future. But they may not,” Spence said in a statement.
By Daniella Diaz and Annie Reuter, CNN