“Schools can safely reopen on a regional basis, on the advice of the chief medical officer of health, local medical officers of health, school districts and health system partners,” the letter read.
In the science table’s response to Ford, they said that “schools should be the last area to close and the first area to reopen,” and their modeling suggests the total increase in cases would be small.
The table believes most health units would be able to mitigate and manage the increases in their communities.
Several other stakeholders signed the response to the Premier, including the Hospital for Sick Children, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, the Ontario Medical Association and the Ontario Council of Medical Officers of Health (on behalf of all Medical Officers of Health).
Ford on Thursday sent a letter to various stakeholders, including advisory tables, health officials, school boards and teachers, asking if it would be safe to reopen for in-person learning.
The deadline for responding to the letter, which consisted of seven questions, was 5 p.m. Friday.
The science table also took the opportunity to say that this summer would be the perfect time to make schools safer by improving ventilation and vaccinating students.
Ontario should also consider developing stimulus plans to address “long-term mental health, health and education issues stemming from school closures linked to COVID-19,” according to the science table.
The province announced Friday that it plans to fully immunize 12 to 17-year-olds by the start of the school year in September.
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr Eileen De Villa, released his response on Friday, saying Toronto Public Health (TPH) was in favor of resuming in-person learning before any other restrictions were lifted.
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She said infection rates in schools “largely mirrored” infection rates in the general population and that school-aged children suffered as a result of not being in the classroom.
“In this context, a return to in-person learning must be measured against the current levels of infection in the province, the anticipated risks of infections from variants of concern, and the timing of restoring any other activity that will increase.” the interaction between Ontarians of all ages.
Dr. De Villa acknowledged that the decision to resume in-person learning was “complex” in her response and said TPH would support any leadership the province chooses to pursue.
The four main teachers ‘unions, which represent the majority of teachers in the province, responded to the letter saying, “Constructive dialogue requires more than 32 hours’ notice to answer questions better suited to those in medical communities. and public health. . “
They encouraged Ford to convene an education stakeholder advisory table to address the health and safety needs of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The unions did not make a recommendation, but said the government must defer to local medical officers of health for what is best for their communities.
The association that represents school boards responded publicly to Ford’s letter on Friday, saying that while the decision should be left to public health experts, there are a number of steps in which boards can safely reopen.
Earlier this week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr David Williams said he would like schools to resume in-person learning before the province enters the first stage of its plan to reopening in mid-June.
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Williams says he has heard from many public health agencies, including those in the hard-hit Toronto area, who want to see schools reopen.
Ford said he didn’t want to rely solely on the advice of the province’s top public health official, Dr David Williams, who believes students should return to class.
“I know very clearly where Dr. Williams stands,” said Ford. “But I want the scientists to step in. I want to make sure that the teachers’ unions intervene. I want other education workers to step in. I don’t want to rush things. “
Dr de Villa and his Peel Region counterpart Dr Lawrence Loh ordered schools to close in April due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, just days before a community-wide decision. province to move online courses.