Ford Pens Letter Asking for Consensus on Schools Reopening

Experts: Reopening schools to in-person learning should start as soon as possible, depend on regional approach

Last week, the province released a three-phase reopening plan for the province, however schools were not part of the framework. Should indoor school instruction resume before then?

In the letter, Ford acknowledges that there have been "diverse and conflicting views" on the subject, and "a range of advice and commentary".

A recent study from Public Health England by the United Kingdom government indicated a single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine was just 33% effective against the COVID-19 variant first identified in India.

Is the reopening of schools for in person learning safe for students?

Many doctors, experts and parents have urged an immediate school reopening amid a sharp decline in cases recently, saying it's important for children's mental health.

"The decision to return to in-person learning, and when, will be made by the Ministry of Education in consultation with the Ministry of Health".

"There are a lot of medical officers of health who really feel that with the increasing vaccine coverage that we're seeing in our communities, particularly amongst educators, the really favourable decreasing trends of cases and a knowledge that the measures that were put in place in schools previously did help to really make in-person learning safe helped to reduce risk as much as possible in those settings, that we may be getting to a point where the context does support a return to in-person schooling in many communities and certainly in ours here in the Region of Peel", Loh said in an interview with CP24 Thursday evening.

"Our government understands the benefits of having children learning in class", he said. "[In discussions] with our medical officers of health throughout the province - all of them want them to open".

"ETFO firmly believes that in-person instruction is the best experience for students, but it must be done safely, without risk to the health and well-being of students and education workers", Sam Hammond said.

"Medical officers of health say the time is right to open them", Crombie, said on social media. Keeping our students and school staff, and their families, safe in a global pandemic must include global considerations, especially the impact of new, more risky variants that have now entered our communities through Canada's borders.

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". "At the same time we know other jurisdictions are seeing a rapid increase in new, more unsafe variants that are more contagious, make people and children in particular sicker, are potentially more deadly and are more resistant to vaccines". The study found "one dose offered 33 per cent protection against symptomatic infection from B.1.617.2, and 51 per cent against B.1.1.7".

Ontario schools have been closed to in-person learning since the spring break in mid-April. He also says current data shows only 41 per cent of Ontario teachers have been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, and Dr. Lawrence Loh, de Villa's counterpart in Peel Region, said they are still waiting to see if COVID-19 case counts drop further in their jurisdictions. As of May 23, 2021, Ontarians aged 12 and up are now eligible to book a vaccine through the provincial booking system.

Premier Doug Ford has written a letter to dozens of medical experts and education sector unions asking them for "input on the possible safe return to schools" in June. Dr.

"The feedback I have had as of today is that all the ones around the GTHA say they have conducted case and contact management and they're prepared to have their schools open", he said.

Del Duca said letting the public health units and school boards make the call is the "most prudent and responsible" approach.



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