Peel’s chief doctor says he won’t ask for breaks from sports and other extracurricular activities at schools

Unlike his Toronto Public Health counterparts, the Peel Region’s chief physician says he won’t recommend a break from sports and other extracurricular activities at local schools.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical health officer, said the agency recognizes that extracurricular activities support children’s mental health and that there is also an equity consideration involved with the decision, because many children who access these activities in the school environment they cannot do it any other way.

“If we allow some of these extracurricular and athletic activities to occur outside of the larger community, the logic suggests that within the school environment, particularly with the safeguards and processes in place, it is certainly something that could move forward as part of the school experience.” Loh said at an online seminar hosted by the Ontario Medical Association on Thursday morning.

Ontario is dealing with a fourth wave of the pandemic, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. Home to thousands of essential workers at risk, Peel was one of the worst-hit regions in the province during previous waves.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s medical director of health, had given the green light for sports to resume, including high-contact, indoor sports such as hockey and basketball. Education Minister Stephen Lecce told the Star’s Kristin Rushowy that he wants students to be able to participate in extracurricular activities and that any delays must be temporary.

“Once it’s safe to get these programs back on track, all kids deserve to have extracurricular activities,” Lecce said.

Loh said Peel’s health unit is exploring whether vaccination status plays a role in the safety of participating in high-contact sports and other activities. He recommended that families consider limiting the number of extracurricular activities and sports they participate in to one or two.

If new data emerges to support the review of the decision not to pause extracurricular activities, especially if transmission levels in the community increase, the agency “will not hesitate” to do so, Loh added.

For the past week, and through September 8, Peel’s public health has averaged 87.43 cases of COVID per day. Toronto has an average of 150.29 cases per day.

With files from Kristin Rushowy


The conversations are the opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of conduct. The Star does not endorse these views.

Leave a Comment