Premier of Ontario asks experts to give their opinion on reopening schools before end of school year –

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Premier of Ontario asks experts to give their opinion on reopening schools before end of school year – fr


Premier Doug Ford wrote a letter to dozens of medical experts and stakeholders asking for their advice on a possible reopening of schools in June.

Ontario schools have been closed for in-person learning since mid-April, but the province plans to enter the first phase of its plan to reopen by June 14 with the school year approaching. As it ends, calls to allow students to return to class for at least a few weeks of face-to-face instruction are getting louder and louder.

Ford wrote a letter to dozens of medical experts and a handful of education unions on Thursday asking them to “provide advice on a possible safe return to school before the end of the school year. this school year ”.

In the letter, Ford says his government understands “the mental health, academic and other issues some students face when learning at home, especially those from low-income, racialized, and high-need neighborhoods.

But at the same time, he said his government is awaiting new modeling this week, which will suggest that a return to class could lead to an increase in the number of daily cases to between 2,000 and 4,000 per day by the end of the year. month of July.

The Ontario Science Advisory Table has previously suggested that reopening schools would only result in a “manageable” six to 11 percent increase in the number of cases.

“Over the past few weeks, there has been a wide range of advice and commentary on reopening schools in Ontario. There is consensus in some quarters on how, when and if schools should reopen, and diverse and conflicting views in others, ”Ford wrote in the letter. “Keeping children safe is our top priority, which is why, as experts in health, public health and education, we are asking for your perspective.”

Earlier this spring, Education Minister Stephen Lecce repeatedly asserted that schools are safe and are not a major source of transmission of COVID-19.

Ford, however, said in his letter that schools were in fact the source of “more outbreaks than workplaces or any other place” in April.

He also points out that only 41 percent of teachers and education workers in Ontario have received a vaccine against COVID-19 compared to 62 percent of the general population, which he calls “concerning.”

It should be noted that while Ford has so far refused to commit to reopening schools, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr David Williams said earlier this week that he would support the resumption of the in-person learning in at least parts of the province. from next week.

A group of dozens of doctors also published a letter on Tuesday warning that the prolonged school closures put us “on the brink of a generational catastrophe.”

“The longer it lasts, the more hurt, the more isolation and more anxiety (there will be some for the kids),” said Dr Martha Fulford, infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital of McMaster, at CP24 Thursday afternoon. “We have reached a tipping point, we have a second public health crisis that has occurred and we need to pivot and deal with this second public health crisis now.”

Here are the seven questions included in Ford’s letter:

  • Is reopening schools for in-person learning safe for students?
  • Is reopening schools for in-person learning safe for education staff?
  • There are a growing number of cases in Ontario of the variant first identified in India
  • (B.1.617). Does this mutation present an increased risk for students and education workers?
  • Modeling from the Ontario Science Table suggests that reopening schools will lead to an increase in the number of cases in the province of Ontario, is this acceptable and safe?
  • Other countries are reporting warning mutations, with variant B.1.61745 putting children at much greater risk and closing schools. Is this concern not shared by medical experts in Ontario?
  • Do teachers need to be fully immunized before resuming lessons, and if not, is one dose sufficient?
  • As part of Ontario’s plan to reopen, indoor gatherings will not begin until July. Should classroom teaching resume before this date?

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