City officials in the Toronto, Canada city of Richmond Hill have suspended 248 employees with pay — and pay and more — for not getting a tetanus shot as required by the city’s elementary schools by a federal mandate by October 1.
The city said the suspension would last 45 days. According to the Daily Mail, the city described the number of suspensions as a “temporary, no-cost measure.”
The immunization was required as a part of Ottawa-area primary schools, which were upgraded and now include optional virtual education. In order to attend schools in the district, every child must have received the shot.
The Daily Mail reports that the workers involved could be back at work in 45 days and fully replaced in 60 days. Under the suspension the workers can only return to their jobs if they go through special screening and fingerprinting, were retrained and get new vaccinations.
Several community groups have spoken out against the suspension, including the Canadian Federation of Muslims and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.
It’s also the latest controversy in a series of ongoing events involving the city’s Somali community. In June, members of that group clashed with police after the death of local teen Husein Mohamed after he was shot by officers at a gas station in the city. The teens got into a minor skirmish and left. Mohamed was hit by an officer’s car and then dragged by it while he was still pinned, and then shot. He later died.
Still, the City of Richmond Hill said that the immunization issue is a unique situation, due to the deployment of digital learning in the elementary schools. In response to the incident, the City of Richmond Hill said in a statement it wants “to remind the public that it is mandatory for anyone who needs to attend a school in that district to receive a vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap).”
About 48 percent of the school district’s student body is comprised of Muslims, and between 60 and 70 percent of the students were present during the public meeting on the suspensions.
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