Ontario's top doctor 'leery' of reopening schools after the winter break during a 'rapid sweep up' of cases

Elisabetta Bianchini
·2 min read
COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

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Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, stressed that the province’s COVID-19 situation is “trending in the wrong direction,” revealing that he has made recommendations to provincial officials about possible additional restrictions.

“We’re trying to give all of the information they need...to make decisions,” Dr. Williams said. “My recommendations matched with the data, and information and the updated modelling data, including the healthcare system metrics.”

With the winter break for Ontario schools approaching, the chief medical officer of health could not confirm whether there would be any delay to the resumption on in-class learning in the new year, but said his understanding is that the Ministry of Education needs more than a week of notice to make that change.

“I would be leery to have them open up in the midst of a...rapid sweep up in cases in the community,” Dr. Williams said.

He added that testing for school-related cases has ramped up but there are still a lot of cases coming into school settings. Dr. Williams highlighted cases coming into schools needs to be “disrupted” by cohorts in order to not close an entire school

Although 57 per cent of the cases in the province are from Toronto, Peel and York Region, Dr. Williams said the increase in daily reported cases is a more widespread issue.

“Beyond the GTHA [Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area], we have a number of health units outside that, their numbers are going up fairly rapidly as well,” Dr. Williams said. “The issue is not just within a few, we have some wider issues.”

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said there is a challenge in terms of getting individuals who are “unwilling” or less likely to vigilantly follow public health guidelines to resume doing so.

“We’re looking at some strategies, especially those that are from areas where, because of income issues and lack of support, how do we help them and their family members to isolate properly, and to stop and halt the spread within their family household, and in their neighbourhood and community,” Dr. Williams said.

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