Ontario school boards ask government to report and track COVID once again | The Canadian News

Ontario school boards are calling on the provincial government to reinstate COVID-19 reporting and tracking when schools reopen next week, with some saying they will release available data to families.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board sent a letter to Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Wednesday expressing “serious concern, disappointment and frustration” over recent changes in how COVID-19 will be handled in schools.

The board said it was especially disappointed with the disruption of COVID-19 reporting, as well as the dismissal of students and staff when a positive case was identified in a classroom or cohort.

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The board asked the province to reconstitute the COVID-19 reporting system that was in place before the winter break. He also said the province should provide better quality masks to students and an “adequate number” of rapid test kits for all students and staff.

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“The mental health and well-being of staff and students has been and continues to be a significant challenge as we continue to navigate the pandemic,” the letter said.

“Ensuring that measures are in place to support a safe return to in-person learning mitigates the apprehension and anxiety resulting from the recent change in practice.”

The Limestone District School Board said in a statement late Wednesday that it would send a letter to the provincial government and Ontario’s chief medical officer of health requesting the monitoring and reporting of COVID-19 in schools by units of public health.

The board also called for continued funding for rapid antigen testing for all students and staff and “transparent and timely” communication to families and staff regarding changes to in-person and remote learning.

Asked Wednesday why the government is no longer reporting COVID-19 data in schools, Ontario’s top physician said the province has changed its protocols in its “pivot from Delta to Omicron.”

Dr. Kieran Moore said the province will continue to report certain COVID-19 data, such as hospital admissions related to the virus for children between the ages of five to 11 and 12 to 17.

“We’ve always had to have a balance and risk-based approach to this pandemic, and I think we’re hitting the mark with Omicron and we’ll be transparent with all of those metrics,” he said.

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The province has touted shipments of masks, upgraded ventilation systems and the eventual launch of rapid tests for students and staff members as part of its return to in-person learning plan.

Moore added that the two rapid antigen tests that will be provided to students will “empower” parents by letting them know if their child has the virus and if they should isolate at home.

Some school boards have decided to take matters into their own hands when schools reopen next week, in the absence of regular COVID-19 reports from the province.

In a letter to parents and guardians, the Durham District School Board (DDSB) said it is preparing to share COVID-19 data, as it becomes available.

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That includes reporting confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 in schools, ensuring families and staff have a mechanism to self-report COVID-19 test results, and providing information about school and class closures.

“Our goal is to be as transparent as possible with families through this public report,” the board said.

In a statement, the Toronto Catholic District School Board said it also plans to go beyond provincial requirements, notifying “any affected cohort” if someone chooses to disclose a positive result from a rapid COVID-19 antigen test or a test. PCR.

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A spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board said Tuesday that the board is still determining what may be possible in terms of reporting COVID-19 data.

Public health units will be required to notify families if 30 percent of a school, including staff and students, is absent, but it will not be confirmed if all absences are due to COVID-19.

Principals must report daily absences to the Ministry of Education, which will be published online as part of the province’s COVID-19 data.

The DDSB said it will also publicly report absenteeism when it reaches 15 percent, as opposed to the 30 percent threshold that officials said would need to be reached for families to be notified.

Other public health units said they would follow the province’s guidance for reporting absenteeism and not report COVID-19 data.

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For example, the Lambton Kent District School Board said that since it will not receive data on confirmed COVID-19 cases from local public health units, it will not report confirmed COVID-19 cases involving students or staff.

A spokesman for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board said it is “following the direction of the Ministry of Education.”

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Meanwhile, in a letter to families, the Bluewater District School Board asked students to complete a rapid antigen test, provided to them by the Ministry of Education before winter break, before returning to school on January 17, if they have any. remaining tests.

Ontario schools, which have been teaching students online since early January, will resume in-person learning on Monday.

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