There are now 16 Ontario schools that are closed as COVID-19 cases linked to students and staff continue to rise

The number of Ontario schools closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks or operational considerations related to the pandemic has risen again and now stands at 16, raising concerns about the continued delivery of personalized learning.

The Department of Education says there are now 16 schools in Ontario that have switched to distance learning, up from 15 a day earlier.

It is the highest number ever this school year and represents a significant increase from this time last week, when only five schools were closed.

Three of the closed schools are in Toronto, including Grenoble Public School, which was forced to close earlier this week after at least 15 students tested positive for COVID-19.

During the question period in Queen’s Park on Thursday, NDP MPP Rima Berns-McGown said parents are now looking “nervous” at the numbers because “the last time we saw the number soar, the county’s cancellation of in-person classes wasn’t too far.” was behind.”

“This spike in cases and in closures shows how important it is for us to get vaccines into the arms of children as soon as possible. But instead of coming up with a plan to make that happen, the prime minister just seems to shrug, cross his fingers and hope it all works out,” she said. “When is this government going to take this seriously or will parents have to wait for every school to close again for the Prime Minister to act?”

School-related cases of COVID-19 declined steadily for most of October, but have been increasing for several weeks now, surpassing the increase in infections in the wider community.

According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Education, there were 154 new cases of COVID-19 among public school students and staff, confirmed over a 24-hour period ending Wednesday afternoon.

That’s more than 129 cases in the same period last week.

The number of active cases linked to the public school system has risen 24 percent in the past week and now stands at 1,489.

In comparison, the number of active cases in Ontario increased by just 14 percent over the same period.

Despite the worrying trends, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said during the question period on Thursday that health officials continue to believe schools are “safe”.

Lecce also accused the opposition of trying to “fuel alarmism” by citing the high rate of school closures, five of which are due to operational reasons.

“The Chief Medical Officer of Health has said himself that schools are safe and reflective of our community,” he said. “We now have more than 400 school clinics for our youngest students in our schools who are now vaccine-eligible and we are proud to work together to roll out the vaccines to as many children as possible.”

Since the start of the school year, there have been 6,945 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to schools. During the 2020-2021 school year, it took until December 17 to surpass that number.

The number of school closures is also well above the 2020 level when only four schools had switched to distance learning. However, that number rose to 22 by the December break.

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