TORONTO -- Nearly half of all active COVID-19 infections in the province now involve students and staff at public schools and child-care centres, despite a steady reduction in the total number of cases linked to those settings.

According to the latest data, there are now 1,187 known active cases of COVID-19 associated with public schools and another 162 cases associated with child-care centres.

The two settings currently account for 44.2 per cent of all active COVID-19 cases in Ontario. That is up from 39.9 per cent of active cases at this time last week and 34.8 of all active cases two weeks ago.

The good news is that the number of infections tied to classrooms and childcare centres does seem to be declining, even as the settings continue to make up an increasingly larger share of Ontario’s overall case counts.

The latest data reported by the Ministry of Education on Tuesday suggests that there were 150 new school-related cases confirmed over a three-day period ending on Monday afternoon. That is down from 173 cases over the same time period last week. There were also another 13 cases confirmed in child-care centres, down from 19 cases at this time last week.

As a result, the total number of active cases associated with Ontario’s public schools and child-care centres now stands at 1,349, down from a peak of nearly 2,000 earlier this month but virtually unchanged from this time last week.

The latest data comes as many school-aged children prepare for Halloween this weekend. Last year public health officials urged Greater Toronto Area children not to trick or treat due to the COVID-19 pandemic but that advice has been set aside for this weekend amid radically improved public health indicators.

“Be careful but things are better enough this year that we can have kids going out,” Toronto Mayor John Tory told CP24 on Tuesday. “I think it just has to be common sense and caution on the count of parents because the kids don’t know what is different about Halloween this year compared to precious years. So perhaps leave the candy outside so you don’t have to have as much human interaction there are certainly ways to avoid crowding on doorsteps.”

There are currently only two Ontario schools that have been ordered to close due to COVID-19 outbreaks, though at least 126 individual classrooms in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area are self isolating due to a positive case.

There are also seven child-care centres that have been required to close due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Meanwhile, the total number of school-related cases reported since the beginning of September currently stands at 4,287.

At this point in 2020 there had only been a total of 1,770 school-related cases but that was before the second wave of the pandemic drove a rapid rise in case counts in the broader community.

Toronto Public Health says that there are currently five active outbreaks in schools and one active outbreak in childcare centres. There are eight active outbreaks in workplace settings.