Experts: Reopening schools to in-person learning should start as soon as possible, depend on regional approach
28 May, 2021, 12:36
Don't expect an answer on schools reopening today as the Premier asks for consensus from doctors and educators.
The premier of Ontario wants feedback on whether to open up our schools next month or not. In the letter he specifically asks 7 questions.
There's also the risk of variants entering the classroom and Ford says his goal is to keep all students and school staff safe.
"What makes all this new information concerning is that ... only 41 per cent of teachers and education workers are vaccinated compared to 62 per cent of the general adult population in Ontario", Ford wrote. Should indoor school instruction resume before then?
"We are urging those consultations happen on an urgent basis and schools reopen as soon as possible". In it, they expressed their support for the reopening of schools.
"Our government understands the benefits of having children learning in class", he said.
"I am urging Doug Ford to provide the support to our public health units to give the public health units right across Ontario the authority to make the decisions", he said.
"In recent weeks, there has been a wide range of advice and commentary around the reopening of schools in Ontario". There is consensus in some quarters on how, when and whether schools should reopen, and diverse and conflicting views in others.
"It's the end of May, and just now Mr. Ford is asking health and education experts for feedback?"
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Dr. Karim Kurji, medical officer of health for York Region, said the criteria have been met for a safe school reopening this year in his jurisdiction.
As has been the case with numerous issues pertaining to the health crisis, Ford is stuck between a rock and a hard place and admits he may not know what's best and is no expert - so he's asking for advice from those who are to help make this difficult decision. Those same neighbourhoods are often in COVID hotspots, and we know that school cases are amplified by what is happening in the community. "So we want everyone to please work with us, get vaccinated, please work with your families and friends and convince them to get vaccinated".
Ontario is not an island.
Is the reopening of schools for in person learning safe for education staff?
Scientists advising the government said last week that schools reopening would be associated with a daily case increase of between six and 11 per cent but that "may be manageable". "We in York Region are ready for schools to be reopened right away if the processes with the ministries of education and health allow that to be the case". "At the same time we know other jurisdictions are seeing a rapid increase in new, more risky variants that are more contagious, make people and children in particular sicker, are potentially more deadly and are more resistant to vaccines".
Both De Villa and Loh ordered schools to close in April due to soaring cases, days ahead of a provincewide decision to move classes online. That variant is also on the rise in Ontario. The medical officers in Toronto and Peel Region said, however, that they were still watching to see if COVID-19 cases dropped further. Should teachers be fully vaccinated before resuming in class lessons and if not, is one dose sufficient?
As Premier, my priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has always been to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.
"While the chief medical officer of health has confirmed that schools have been safe, we will continue to work with him, with other medical experts and education partners across Ontario on a path forward, as we continue making progress in our battle against COVID-19", Clark said.
Ford is looking for responses to his letter no later than 5 p.m. on May 28.