Ontario public schools now account for 36 per cent of the province's active COVID-19 cases
FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID19, elementary school students use hand sanitizer before entering school for classes in Godley, Texas. As schools reopen around the country, their ability to quickly identify and contain coronavirus outbreaks before they get out of hand is about to be put to the test. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
TORONTO -- Ontario’s publicly-funded school boards are reporting another 88 new cases of COVID-19 today as they continue to account for an increasingly large share of Ontario’s active caseload.
The number of school-related infections has been mostly stable for weeks now but with cases quickly dropping in the broader community schools now make up a bigger share of Ontario’s active cases than they have at any point since the resumption of classes last month.
As of today there are 1,159 active cases associated with public schools, accounting for more than 36 per cent of Ontario’s active caseload.
At this point last week there were 1,255 active cases associated with the school system but that only accounted for 32 per cent of the province’s active caseload. Two weeks ago there were 1,234 active cases, accounting for 28 per cent of Ontario’s active caseload.
The increase in the share of cases associated with public schools comes amid some optimism that Health Canada will soon approve the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children ages five to 11.
During a meeting of Toronto’s Board of Health on Monday, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vinita Dubey detailed some of the efforts that Toronto Public Health is taking to prepare for the administration of vaccines to that group, which is estimated to include about 200,000 people in the city.
“We are collaborating with our health sector partners to plan for clinics and we are also connecting with school boards, community representatives and the ministry of health to have a really diverse plan to be able to vaccinate this age group,” she said. “The vaccination strategy will be informed based on a needs-based approach and you can see that it will be different from the adult vaccination strategy. For example, schools as a location where vaccines are provided may be more preferable and we are currently working to get more information from parents to find out what are some of their preferred places to receive the vaccine.”
According to the latest data, there are currently 582 schools across Ontario with at least one active case of COVID-19. That number previously peaked at 819 in late September but has been trending downward in recent weeks.
Meanwhile there are only two schools across Ontario that are closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks today following the resumption of in-person learning at Etobicoke’s Greenholme Junior Middle School this morning. That school was previously ordered to close on Oct. 14 after 10 cases were linked to the building.
It should be noted that there are at least 147 individual classroom cohorts in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that are self-isolating following positive cases in the classroom.
The total number of school-related cases confirmed to date also remains well ahead of where it was at this point in the 2020/2021 academic year – 4,141 compared to 1,770.
However in 2020 the increase in school-related cases accelerated in November as the second wave of the pandemic resulted in a rapid rise in infections in the broader community