The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) said its public health department should consider closing schools and switching to online learning as the number of COVID-19 cases increases daily.
The YRDSB says the decision to close schools for in-person learning rests with the local public unit or the Ford government and Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
A motion was passed at the York Region Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday the president is authorized to advocate for school closures by writing a letter to Lecce and York Region Public Health.
“In order to protect our staff, our students and the community at large, the public health of York Region [must] consider a decision to close and move all schools to e-learning in light of recommendations from other public health units across the province, âthe York Region Board of Directors said in an email.
The council also requests that tthat YRDSB staff, administrators, custodians and other staff be prioritized for vaccines âemergency for their safety as frontline workers and to reduce or prevent the board from closing more schools due to operational issues.
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York Region released a third statement on Wednesday saying it is committed to keeping students in the classroom.
âTransmission of COVID-19 in York Region schools remains low and to date all school closures experienced in York Region have been closed for operational reasons unrelated to reasons of epidemic, âsaid a spokesperson for York Region.
“As of Wednesday, April 7, 2021, York Region’s decision remains the status quo: York Region Public Health continues to follow the provincial reopening framework by prioritizing schools to remain open at all levels, even during the closure of the province-wide âemergency brakeâ. “
There are currently 12 closed schools in the York Region Catholic District School Board and 13 schools in the YRDSB.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) issued a section 22 order and announced the closure of schools on Tuesday; one day after Peel Public Health became the first local health unit to recommend school closures for in-person learning due to concerns about COVID-19.
Similar to Region of Peel, the order will be in place from April 7-18, which will bring students to the end of April vacation.
Ontario teachers’ unions, meanwhile, are calling for more protection in schools against COVID-19 as a third wave sweeps across the province.
Unions held a press conference today calling for mass vaccination of teachers and other school staff.
Union leaders also say e-learning should be adopted across the province until the safety of staff and students is guaranteed.
The Minister of Education has defended his position on keeping students in class, announcing Wednesday that “Schools remain safe with strong public health measures in place that have kept nearly 99% of Ontario schools open.”
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The province reported a surprising increase in school-related COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 719 new infections, of which 571 affect students.
As of Thursday, that number fell to 301 new school-related infections with 245 positive cases among students.
Premier Doug Ford announced a province-wide state of emergency and a stay-at-home order which entered into force Thursday morning.
Schools will remain open for in-person learning, unless decided otherwise by local public health units.
As a result, Lecce announced additional security measures including mandatory cleaning of schools during spring break, offering asymptomatic COVID-19 testing at assessment centers April 12-18, refresher training on safety protocols, expanding mandatory screening requirements before d ” enter schools and encourage outdoor education.