‘Back to school’ is just around the corner, and with new regulations being considered around mandatory vaccinations for in-school learning, parents may be at odds over what to do.
Whether divorced, separated, or simply not seeing eye to eye on COVID-19, new legal challenges have emerged for those looking to protect their children.
Where Things Stand For Ontario Schools
As of August 2021, Ontario has announced a return to in-person teaching in September of 2021. However, with COVID-19 cases ramping up again, the future remains uncertain.
At this time, vaccinations are not mandatory for elementary and high school students and teachers, though many Universities across Ontario have begun to implement these regulations.
All staff and students will be required to self-screen each day for symptoms before arriving at school. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must not attend school and must get tested.
Masks will be mandated for students in grades one through twelve while inside school walls. Masks will remain optional – but recommended – for children in kindergarten.
As part of the government’s plan, school sports and clubs are allowed to resume in September.
However, the guidance released did not provide parents with answers to some of their key questions, like how schools will deal with COVID-19 outbreaks or whether there will be different rules for vaccinated children.
Parents Against Masking In School
Parents against masking in schools have become more and more outspoken about their views as the school season approaches. For example, organizations such as the ‘Parents for Mask Free Education’ have gathered, expressing concerns around the human and civil rights of children.
For parents who disagree on masking, arguments are likely to centre around allowing their masked child to return to in-person school, or to be schooled online, mask-free.
This battle is playing out in courtrooms, local governments, school boards, Parliament, and our own homes. With children’s safety on the line, debates are tough, taxing, and can become anger-filled— a sure recipe for friction within a family unit.
Parents Against COVID-19 Vaccinations
With more and more institutions creating a return to work and return to school plan that requires proof of vaccination, tensions are also rising between divorced and separated couples who disagree on vaccination.
We predict that arguments over whether or not a child should be vaccinated will become a main area of contention among parents over the next few months.
Unfortunately, we also expect this tension to lead to an increase in separations and divorces for cases where emotions are high, and cracks in a marriage have become more evident during the lockdown.
Kids & COVID-19 In The Courts
Stress and worry are high for all experiencing the impact of COVID-19. Marriages and co-parenting situations have been challenged like never before.
Take the following case for example:
While her ex-wife wants their 12-year-old-son to get vaccinated right away, the child’s other mother would rather wait, as some teenagers, albeit rarely, have had heart inflammation after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the CDC.
“I’d prefer to wait for there to be a larger sample size of kids getting the vaccine to see if there any other problems.”
She says that she and her ex-wife are vaccinated and that the two have never disagreed about any of the other vaccinations their sons have received throughout their childhood.
“This is the first time we’ve disagreed about something like this. We’ve been remarkably on the same page with most of our co-parenting decisions — until now.”
In this case, the other parent asked the court to use its judgment to step in and determine whether the child should have the vaccine.
For school-related disagreements that have made it to court level, Ontarians have seen, for the most part, that judges encourage children to return to in-person teaching so as to not further impact their socialization skills and wellbeing among peers.
However, this trend doesn’t guarantee things will remain the same over the next few months or even years. Until specific regulations are handed down, there’s no clear sign of what Courts will favour when it comes to kids and schooling.
Parental Rights & Vaccinations
Unsure of your rights as a parent? Reach out to us at Epstein & Associates.
It’s important to know that if the parents aren’t divorced or living under an order, either parent can give consent for a child to be vaccinated.
However, once the parents separate and are living under a parenting order, the order will govern which parent has the right to decide on a child’s medical care, including ‘invasive medical procedures such as vaccines.
Irreconcilable Differences Over Vaccination
With litigation over vaccinations on the rise, we’ve interacted with plenty of vaccine issues between ex-spouses lately.
We encourage all parents to be as open and transparent with each other as possible. It is always our recommendation to inform the other parent of your intent to vaccinate a child. Having a conversation with an expert is also recommended.
If tensions arise and agreements are unable to be reached, we are happy to step in to help mitigate further hostility or challenges.
Our services will help to ensure you and your ex-spouse are able to separate feelings, remain factual, and do what’s best for your child.
This blog is made available by the law firm publisher, Epstein & Associates, for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice. Any specific questions about your legal concerns please contact us now and speak to an expert today.