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Toronto students are now being asked to voluntary disclose vaccination status

Toronto Public Health is requesting that Toronto school boards begin collecting voluntary disclosure of vaccination status for students born in 2009 and earlier. This objective is to more effectively manage COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in schools in order to minimize disruption to students.

Although the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) noted in a statement that students can “choose to disclose or not disclose”—it is entirely voluntary—those who do not disclose their vaccination status will be considered unvaccinated for the purposes of the dismissal process.

For example, in the event of a temporary cohort dismissal related to COVID-19, students who are fully vaccinated are allowed to continue to attend school as long as they have no symptoms (although they’ll still have to pass the COVID-19 screening tool each day, confirming they don’t have symptoms).

To collect this information, the TDSB added a new “My Vaccination Status” menu item to their health screening app and online portal. When selecting this item, students should select “Update Vaccination Status” and complete the form, including uploading their vaccination receipt.

Another tool being used to ensure safe in-person learning is via increasing access to rapid antigen screening. In a press conference on Tuesday, provincial ministers announced that Ontario will offer rapid COVID-19 tests to some schools and child-care settings (where the risk of transmission is high).

The program will support access to voluntary, rapid asymptomatic screening for unvaccinated children and students who aren’t considered high-risk contacts of positive COVID-19 cases.

Local public health units will have discretion in requesting the tests, based on, for example, the level of virus transmission or the history of COVID-19 in a particular school/childcare centre.

“Targeted asymptomatic screening has the potential to detect cases in schools earlier and reduce the risk of outbreaks and closures, particularly in communities across the province that have a high prevalence of active COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, in a statement.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, noted that, by improving ventilation in Ontario schools and taking further action through the introduction of a targeted rapid antigen screening program, they are helping to keep schools safer and open.

In Ontario, as of Tuesday, 21,916,657 vaccine doses have been administered today (with approximately 4,767,565 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto). The province also reported that 86.6% of Ontarians 12+ have received one vaccination dose and 81.5% have received two doses.

As of publication, 277 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals—236 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 41 are fully vaccinated. There are 155 people in ICU due to COVID-19—147 who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and eight are fully vaccinated.

On Tuesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott reported 429 new cases of COVID-19—301 cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 128 are in fully vaccinated individuals.

Click here for more COVID-19 Ontario updates.