Students suspended in droves


2,000 kids suspended from C-K schools

Schools suspended nearly 2,000 Chatham-Kent students this week, and none of it was due to acting out, fighting or any other form of misbehaviour.

The kids got the boot because they didn’t get the shots.

CK Public Health officials reported about 2,000 students were not up to date with their routine school immunizations and, as a result, were suspended.

That’s about 10 times the normal number of kids suspended for not having up-to-date immunizations, according to Carina Caryn, program manager for CK Public Health.

Public Health officials credit the pandemic for having a major impact, as resources were used to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines to the public for a long stretch.

Despite the fallout of the pandemic delaying shots, efforts were made to catch all students up with their immunizations. Officials said parents were sent letters in August of last year and in January, with orders for compliance issued just last month.

“We ran ‘catch-up’ clinics at each high school across Chatham-Kent, as well as additional clinics for those still overdue in February and early March at our King Street clinic location,” Caryn said.

Those events came on the heels of additional clinics held in the spring of last year across high schools in Chatham-Kent, which were open for anyone to get their updated shots.

Officials from Public Health said it wasn’t one specific immunization that was particularly lacking.

Mumps, measles, rubella, varicella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenza type B, and pneumococcal vaccinations were all listed as immunizations that were not up to date, according to CK Public Health.

School-aged kids from across age groups were impacted.

Two shots that had zero impact on suspensions were HPV and Hepatitis B, as they are not mandatory immunizations, “and therefore students missing those shots are not at risk of suspension,” CK Public Health officials said.

It’s not difficult to get a suspended student back in the classroom.

“A student goes back once they are cleared by Public Health with up-to-date immunizations or an appointment time to complete those immunizations,” Caryn said.
Public Health will be back in schools in May for all Grade 7 and 8 students, offering another round of Hep B, HPV and meningitis shots, she added.


  1. The statement that it is not difficult to get children back into classrooms is dubious at best. I have been trying for days, calling multiple numbers and speaking to anyone I can get ahold of at public health to rectify the situation as my daughter has a medical exemption for most vaccines and I have yet to get a response from anyone. Furthermore, while we are waiting for call backs, there are no online learning opportunities for my child to keep up with her schoolwork. Let me be clear: I support vaccinations. I believe that they are necessary for all students, but the manner in which this was undertaken is flawed and inefficient. CK Public Health clearly needs more staff and more funding to be able to fill the deficit left by the woeful lack of family practitionners available in the area. Walk-in clinics should be equipped to provide routine vaccinations. Email contact to provide our documents should be provided by Public Health. A few vaccine clinics at the high schools is not enough; we need the same access to routine vaccinations as we have to covid vaccines; why are our children being penalized for the dreadful state of medical care in Ontario? Shameful.

    • The one billion that Ford has defunded healthcare….might have something to do with it. He refuses to build public hospitals with public money and hire public doctors. However….he found the money to build public hospitals and pay PRIVATE doctors (ALL WITH OUR TAX MONEY) to run the public hospitals. If you care about your kid….vote differently for the person that controls our healthcare. This was not Chatham’s fault.

  2. Teresa Bendo announced in November 2022 that they would be losing a 1.0 Full time nursing position on the School
    Health Team. That’s the team that administers vaccinations and clears students to return to school. If the Health Unit was aware last August that they were going to have TEN TIMES the suspensions, why choose to lose that nursing position? A full-time Health Educator was hired the month before the nursing position was lost. That’s great, but health educators can’t give shots. Poor management.

  3. Many suspended who weren’t even due for vaccines. 4 yr old for not having their 4-6yr boosters. Even though not required until 6yrs old. A complete disaster!


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