Extracurricular activities could soon resume in Toronto schools but no 'high contact' sports indoors for now
TORONTO -- Extracurricular activities could soon resume in Toronto schools but public health officials are recommending that “high contact and high intensity” sports be held outdoors only for the time being.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) announced on the eve of classes resuming that they would pause extra-curricular activities, field trips and mixed-cohort high-contact sports for the month of September on the advice of Toronto Public Health.
The decision represented a significant pivot from earlier in the summer when Education Minister Stephen Lecce repeatedly insisted that students would return to a school environment more closely resembling the pre-pandemic norm.
The pause, however, turned out to be short-lived.
On Monday Toronto Public Health issued new guidance that it says would allow schools to “gradually resume” extracurricular activities once “school routines are established.”
It says that for the time being individuals from different schools and mixed cohorts should “limit interactions” to the outdoors.
It also says that “high contact and high intensity activities” be limited to the outdoors as well.
That could mean that some sports teams, like basketball or volleyball, won’t be able to resume competition just yet.
But Toronto Public Health says that it is recommending that “low contact and low intensity activities” be permitted indoors, so long as participants wear masks and physically distance.
It says that guidelines should be developed to limit the number of extracurricular activities a student can participate in at one time in order to reduce contacts across different cohorts.
It is also recommending that the resumption of extracurricular activities begin with students between the ages of 12 and 17, given that those individuals are eligible to be vaccinated.
The latest guidance also paves the way for the resumption of field trips, though overnight field trips continue to be discouraged.
“A gradual return of field trips can occur, when health and safety protocols including infection prevention and control procedures are well established in the schools, taking into consideration low risk activities and settings,” the guidance states.
While the TDSB and TCDSB did pause extracurricular activities, other boards in the GTA allowed them to resume with precautions.