Ontario schools are not included in the province’s new COVID-19 restriction guidelines.
On Tuesday, the province released the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, which puts all the regions into five categories that each have their distinct guidelines to help stop the spread of the virus. The five categories include prevent (green), protect (yellow), restrict (orange), control (red), and lockdown (grey).
While guidelines have been given for gatherings, food and drink establishments, sports and recreational fitness, event spaces, retail, personal care services, casinos, cinemas, and performing arts spaces, schools are noticeably absent.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said that “schools are in a different area” and that they have “opened up with a lot of protection in place.” He noted that the schools have more staff at all levels, with additional nurses, PPE, and various cohorts.
Williams added that the students are likely getting their positive diagnosis from their families or other community contacts.
He said there is enhanced screening and with cohorts, contacts are limited to just one class.
“As a result, this past week no schools have closed outright from the outbreaks,” he said.
Williams said his main concern is why so many students with a diagnosis are coming to school, especially in the hotspots.
“What we’re concerned about is why are so many coming. We find there is a high level of positivity and community transmission, especially under modified zone 2. If we do a better job of protecting ourselves from COVID-19, our children won’t get COVID-19 and they won’t bring it into the school. If there’s less chance of the school being investigated, there’s less chance of the school being closed.”
There have been a reported 923 school-related cases in just two weeks in Ontario to date, with 1,437 cases reported 14 or more days before that.