Peel school boards consider moving schools to online learning until April

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Peel Region boards met with the local public health unit and province to discuss moving all of their students to online learning until mid-April.

This comes as Ontario records rising numbers of school closings because of COVID-19.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health, confirmed a meeting took place on Wednesday “to review the COVID situation in schools. We agreed to reconvene with our school board partners next week to re-evaluate the situation. The Ministry of Education indicated there would be no closure of Peel schools.”

Although there have been a low number of outbreaks so far, Loh noted that — as across the province — the concern is the increase in community and household transmission will correspond to more cases in schools. Public health, he added, “is carefully monitoring the impact of variants of concern and have strengthened measures in response.”

In Northern Ontario, 78 schools moved online in the last two weeks, including 40 Rainbow District schools, 20 Thunder Bay Catholic District schools, and 18 Sudbury Catholic District schools.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board said on Friday it shifted three more schools to remote learning because new, stricter public health rules meant to curb the spread of contagious COVID-19 variants have forced numerous teachers into self-isolation, bringing the total number of its shuttered facilities to 10.

“The temporary absence of this many staff and the challenges in securing occasional teachers to provide staffing relief in the short term, has placed considerable pressure on our ability to provide safe supervision and to maintain operations in an in-person environment at our school,” said Bruce Campbell, a spokesman for the board.

The new rules provide what Campbell described as an “extra layer of protection,” and require those who have even limited contact with classes to self-isolate if they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

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