The Ontario government will end collection of the number of COVID-19 cases in publicly funded schools and suspend all public reports of new infections among students and staff starting next week.
The change was detailed in a note from the Ministry of Education sent to school boards on Thursday.
“In light of recent changes in case and contact management by the Department of Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (OCMOH), the department will suspend reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools “, indicates the score obtained by CP24.
“Additional information will be shared shortly with school boards on expectations regarding school absences and school closures due to COVID-19, in collaboration with education and pediatric officials.”
In a press release issued Friday by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), he confirmed that the Department of Education “will no longer collect COVID-19 case numbers from school boards.”
“The TDSB, which is committed to keeping families as informed as possible, is currently examining how reports and notifications can occur in the future.”
The change was not included in Thursday’s announcements from Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, who confirmed the government is delaying the opening of schools by two days.
Ontario has been reporting cases of COVID-19 in schools for 18 months.
Additionally, in the memo, the province said cohorts in schools and daycares can no longer be terminated even after a positive case is confirmed. It is always recommended that students and staff with symptoms of COVID-19 or confirmed cases self-isolate, regardless of their immunization status.
The ministry also explained in the memo how school boards can minimize school closures due to âhigh expected absenteeism ratesâ among staff.
One of the steps is to allow school boards to “combine classes and assign students to different classes for supervision.”
Schools can also introduce “scheduled and rotating distance learning days for schools as needed, up to one day per week,” the memo reads.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce defended his government’s approach earlier on Friday, saying it was placing more emphasis on improving ventilation and masking.
âSchools are literally some of the safest places in our community because we have distancing, clustering, screening at the start, quality masking, ventilation improvements and access to home PCR testing for students and symptomatic staff. This is going to make a difference and I understand that we all have anxiety about the Omicron variant because we all want it to be behind us. But by increasing our vaccination efforts, wearing quality masks and by continuing to be vigilant as a society I think we will get through the next few weeks, âhe said in an interview with CP24.
“They will be difficult, but it is worth it to get our children to school, to keep them safe and to keep learning.”
The opposition called the move “terrifying” and criticized Prime Minister Doug Ford for “trying to hide the damage and danger of his choices.”
âFord’s attempt to cover up COVID numbers in schools will harm children, families, teachers and education workers,â NDP education spokesperson Marit Stiles said, in a press release.
âParents must decide to send their children to school without knowing if the school has a high number of COVID cases. If we can’t find out where the virus is, we can’t fight it. Ford is treating it. students and staff as pawns in its attempt to hide the growing number of COVID. â
– with files from Chris Fox and Chris Herhalt