Toronto schools to close Wednesday for in-person learning

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 7, 2021

Toronto Public Health says it has recommended the closing of 22 schools across the city starting on Tuesday due to COVID-19 investigations.

The closure will remain in place until April 18 and Loh says it may be extended if necessary.

Peel's medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, exercised the power to close schools under Section 22 of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act. If your child attends a school in Peel region, they are not allowed to attend child care centres or day camps, including those offered by child care providers, during this closure. "Since COVID-19, including variants of concern, are circulating in the community, cases related to community transmission are expected".

"Unfortunately, current circumstances require that hard decisions must be taken locally to protect all those in our school communities, including students, teachers and staff".

The TDSB list includes three high schools, two middle schools and six other elementary schools. "So I think it's largely about the community spread right now and that potential impact on our schools", he said.

Toronto schools have been ordered to close as of Wednesday, forcing students to make the switch from in-person classes to virtual learning.

Bird admitted that the TDSB is giving late notice about the closure but said it shouldn't be too surprising to students and parents. "We've been working behind the scenes all weekend to make this happen". Stronger public health measures are required to reverse the surge of infection that the province now faces, the public health authority said in a media statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

"In some schools, they were concerned that there might have been some transmission, but their case contact management was starting to get overwhelmed with all the contacts to follow", he said.

Siddiqui said her family will decide based on case numbers whether it's safe for their children to return to in-person classes after the spring break ends.

The TDSB already announced the closure of 20 schools due to COVID-19 transmission Tuesday. There are over 1,000 schools with at least one reported case and 83 are now closed as a result. "TPH will continue to recommend early dismissal for individual schools upon investigation to protect students, staff, teachers and school communities".

Many teachers, the unions have said, are required to be in classrooms where children are eating without masks on during lunchtime and snack times.

Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has shifted the course one day after TPH said they were not considering sheltering schools and moving to online learning.

In regions where schools remain open, some parents still chose to keep their children at home, citing safety concerns.

"We'll have to just take a wait-and-see approach", she said.

An online petition calling on the government to vaccinate teachers and support staff in Ontario had garnered around 65,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

The minister's office has defended its stance on keeping students in class, saying Monday "schools remain safe with strong public health measures in place that have kept almost 99% of schools in Ontario open". More than a quarter of the 4,828 schools in the province have an active case.

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