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ETFO members call for mandatory vaccination of school staff

August 17, 2021

TORONTO, ON – At today’s Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) 2021 Annual Meeting, delegates voted in favour of a policy statement calling on the Ford government to ensure appropriate measures are in place for a safe return to school, including the mandatory vaccination of school staff, with provisions for exceptions. Transparent processes must be established, in consultation with unions, to determine how the vaccination requirement could be implemented fairly within the education sector. 


“The province’s voluntary disclosure policy does not go far enough to protect students and school staff. Given the severity and longevity of the global pandemic, it is not unreasonable for the Ford government to implement a mandatory vaccination policy in schools,” says ETFO President Sam Hammond. “Considering the increased risks the Delta variant poses to those who are unvaccinated, including children under 12, and with a concerning rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across Ontario, we must do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of all Ontarians; this includes mandating vaccines for all staff working in schools, with exceptions.”


Vaccines have become an important tool in curbing the pandemic, and in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death. In a survey of ETFO members in June 2021, over 90 per cent indicated that they had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June and 75 per cent indicated that they were already scheduled for a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine before September 2021. We anticipate these numbers have increased significantly over the summer. 

“Students, educators and other education workers are being sent back to unsafe schools because the Ford government has consistently failed to make the investments necessary to ensure a safe and sustainable reopening. In the absence of adequate protocols that will effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools, mandating vaccination can help protect the safety of both staff and students,” adds Hammond. 


Educators want schools to remain open, safely, throughout the year, but we cannot rely on Ford’s current incomplete and inadequate plan to ensure this happens. ETFO is calling on the province to implement the following to ensure appropriate measures are in place for a safe, sustainable 2021-2022 school year:


  • lower class sizes to enable physical distancing;
  • maintain cohorting that limits interactions;
  • improve classroom/work site air exchange/ventilation;
  • mandate masking for all elementary students, including Kindergarten, unless medically exempted;
  • require confirmation of COVID-19 screening of staff and students;
  • provide on-site testing;
  • direct adequate safeguards for student transportation; and
  • mandate COVID-19 vaccination for school staff, with provisions for exceptions.

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at

For more information, contact Carla Pereira, ETFO Media Relations, 416-576-9074,