Toronto schools to shift to remote learning from Wednesday

Schools in Peel Region ordered closed for two weeks due to surging COVID-19 cases

Toronto Public Health to close 22 schools across city due to COVID-19 investigations

The chief medical officer for Peel Region, which also includes the town of Caledon, ordered its schools closed until April 18 on Monday, with camps due to run during next week's delayed break also cancelled.

"Given the evidence, Toronto Public Health (TPH) appreciates the value of in-person learning, and firmly believes that schools should be the first places in our community to open, and the last to close", TPH said in a news release.

School disruptions have serious impacts on children.

Romana Siddiqui said her family had already chose to keep their three kids home by the time the Peel Region school closure was announced Monday. "With increasing case counts and the presence of variants of concern, we need to break chains of transmission and keep our schools safe".

Dr. Lawrence Loh, chief medical officer for Peel Region, has ordered schools closed until April 18, exercising his discretionary powers under Section 22 of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act.

The school board said that for the remainder of this week, students and staff will move to remote learning and the April break scheduled for next week will continue as normal.

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Toronto Public Health is not making the same move, saying earlier it will "continue to manage risk on a school-by-school basis, taking immediate and appropriate action to address these complex outbreaks". "I think it's necessary".

The Toronto Catholic District School Board is also affected by the closure, and it encouraged students to bring materials home with them on Tuesday.

"In some schools, they were concerned that there might have been some transmission, but their case contact management was starting to get overwhelmed with all the contacts to follow", he said.

School is out, or online-only at least, in Mississauga and Brampton, as public health authorities seek to stamp out a rash of new COVID-19 cases in the region.

"The health and safety of students and staff remains a priority for TPH". There are over 1,000 schools with at least one reported case and 83 are now closed as a result.

"That's a huge step for anybody to take", Wolfe said.

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The closure also affects Dufferin-Peel District Catholic School Board, Conseil Scolaire Viamonde, Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, all private schools and all special education staff and students.

Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation- Toronto President Leslie Wolfe told CP24 Tuesday that she welcomes the move but it should have happened sooner.

An online petition calling on the government to vaccinate teachers and support staff in Ontario had garnered around 65,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon. Schools in Peel already have strong measures in place to prevent transmission in their settings.

"Each COVID-19 case in a school requires a careful investigation to determine the potential risk to other individuals in that setting, and based on the findings of the investigation, decisions are then made on how best to protect the staff and students in the school, including dismissing some cohorts or all cohorts", Dubey said.

The cumulative number of school-related cases in Ontario stands at 13,498 according to the latest figures available from the province.

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