“We’ll bring our schools back, but we’re going to have to reset the equation.”
This decision and the associated numbers are enough to cause some on this side of the border to wonder why similar measures are not being taken in major Ontario cities cited as “hot spots” for COVID-19.
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New York City has just under 8.4 million inhabitants with an average positivity rate hovering around 3%. The local education department reported that about 300,000 students were still taking classes in person before Wednesday’s announcement.
Toronto has a much smaller population of just under three million – closer to six million if you factor in the entire GTA – but its test positivity rate is around six. percent. The city has more than 226,000 children still in class between public and Catholic school boards, and there is no immediate plan to change that.
“There have been some cases, but in fact the school program put in place by the province and the school board has worked very well,” said Mayor John Tory.
His sentiments were supported by Toronto’s Assistant Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vinita Dubey.
“Despite the increase in cases in the city… the outbreaks in schools, meaning the spread within the school setting, has actually been quite low,” she told Global News.
In fact, according to Dr. Dubey, given current infection trends in Toronto, closing schools would actually be a downside.
“We want to keep schools open… We even know from the latest literature that when schools were closed there was associated harm,” she said.
“Children certainly need school not just for their education, but for all of these other really important things that schools offer.”
That’s not to say the idea isn’t on the radar. Tory told Global News that city officials “discuss it every morning,” but even if deemed necessary, the decision would ultimately be made at Queen’s Park, where it appears officials don’t care much. .
“The safest place for kids right now (is) actually in schools,” Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
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“When they come in there’s a controlled environment, they have cohorts, and it’s the safest place for the kids.
If for some reason Toronto called for all students to move into digital classrooms, both school boards said they would be ready to adapt quickly.
“Since the start of the year we’ve been reminding staff of the importance of making sure the (software platforms) are set up so that if we have to go online, either for a few days , a week or two, or longer, than we’re able to, ”said Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird.
Any decision to do so cannot be taken lightly; it would have a drastic effect on families. In New York City, in-person classes could be back as early as a month, but in the meantime, many parents are again trying to reorganize their days around closing time.
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