Ontario school boards could resume in-person learning with a few days’ notice –

Ontario school boards could resume in-person learning with a few days’ notice – fr

TORONTO – Several Ontario school boards said on Wednesday they would be able to resume in-person learning with a few days’ notice if the government decided to send students back to class for the last month of the school year .

Pediatric hospitals and doctors called on the government to immediately reopen schools as the number of cases dwindled, saying in-person learning was essential to the well-being of children.

The province’s top doctor said on Tuesday he would like to see schools reopen as early as next week in some areas. Doctors in Toronto and Peel Region, however, said they were still monitoring whether COVID-19 cases fell further.

The Toronto District School Board said it had not heard from the government about resuming in-person learning on Wednesday, but that the schools would be ready to reopen.

“If the ministry were to ask us to go back to in-person learning this school year, we should be able to get going pretty quickly – maybe a few days,” said Ryan Bird.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board also said it would take a few days of preparation to resume in-person learning. A spokesperson said the board should make sure the bus drivers are ready to go and the buses are ready to go after two months.

Both the Halton District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board have confirmed that they will also be able to resume classes in person if asked to do so.

In Peel Region, the top doctor said his health unit is in talks with the government as it reviews a “provincial decision related to in-person learning.”

“We continue to monitor the numbers at Peel and are optimistic that they are moving in a favorable direction which, if maintained, could support a return to in-person learning,” Dr. Lawrence Loh said in a statement.

Dr Eileen De Villa, Loh’s counterpart in Toronto, said COVID-19 cases are still “relatively high” in his city, but shared his optimism that the situation could improve.

“I would like to be able to see what the province makes its decision on and… what it decides to go forward with,” she said.

De Villa and Loh ordered schools to close in April due to the surge in cases, days before a province-wide decision to move classes online.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said safety was a priority, but did not indicate the progress of immediate plans to reopen schools.

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s top doctor told city council on Wednesday that she considers COVID-19 levels low enough to reopen schools in her city. Dr Vera Etches referred to the importance of balancing the risks of COVID-19 with the harms to mental health.

She suggested that teachers could take advantage of the warm weather with outdoor lessons, as well as other mitigation measures.

COVID-19 cases have dropped since schools were closed and a stay-at-home order has been imposed, but experts say resuming classes at this point is not without risk.

Scientists briefing the government said last week that reopening schools would be associated with a daily increase in cases of between 6 and 11 percent, but that “may be manageable.”

Meanwhile, teachers’ unions have reiterated their calls for stricter security measures before any possible reopening.

The president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario called for more health and safety support.

“ETFO strongly believes that in-person teaching is the best experience for students, but it must be done safely, without risk to the health and well-being of students and education workers,” Sam Hammond said.

Harvey Bischof, of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, said he would support in-person learning in some low-risk areas of COVID-19, but wanted more clarity on any plan government.

“It’s amazing for me to hear the chief medical officer of health’s public thoughts on reopening schools when there has been no proposed plan (and) there has been absolutely no transparency regarding the parameters on which they base this, “Bischof said in an interview.

He said the union considers going back to school, even for a short time, worth it for students, but proper planning and consultation is needed.

“You can’t just get things going again without planning and support,” he said.

Jessica Lyons, a mother from Toronto, said she understood the frustration with online classes – her own elementary-aged children “despise” online learning – but that she likely wouldn’t fire her children online. class even if schools reopened before the end of the term. end of June.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” she said.

Lyons, who is part of the Ontario Parent Action Network advocacy group, expressed concern about the increased risk of COVID-19 variants, the lack of safety upgrades and the fact that teachers and students are not yet fully immunized.

Ontario reported 1,095 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 other virus-related deaths on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 26, 2021.


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