With COVID-19 cases coming down, some health experts are pushing for schools to reopen soon to benefit students and their working parents.
The Science Advisory Table’s latest COVID-19 modelling predicts school reopening could lead to a 6% to 11% increase in cases. However, they believe it’s manageable as overall case counts come down.
“Schools should be the last thing to close and the first thing to open. They have a critical role,” Science Table co-chair Dr. Steini Brown said at a news conference Thursday.
The Science Table ran modelling that predicted future case counts if schools opened on June 2. Brown said opening schools would elevate case counts from the green line scenario to the yellow one.
But Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, stopped short of recommending a particular day to get students back in classrooms.
“We know it’s been a tough year for everyone,” Williams said. “I would like it by June. For which day, I’ll have to be in consultation with the Ministry of Education and School Boards as well.”
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Ontario has crested its third wave of infection, with the seven-day average sitting at 2,131, down from a high of more than 4,300 in mid-April.
Many teachers and education staff have already received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, and the province plans to begin vaccinating youth age 12 to 17 during the last week of May.
Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to reveal Ontario’s reopening plan Thursday afternoon. The government hasn’t yet said when schools will reopen. They’ve been closed indefinitely across the province since the April spring break.