Schools in Ontario have been shut to in-person learning since early to mid-April. Should indoor school instruction resume before then?
Many doctors and experts have called for the immediate reopening of schools, saying it's very important for the children's mental health.
Dr. Williams is in favour of opening the schools, but we have a few doctors on the science table that aren't in favour.
Ford has written a letter to the local public health units, the science health advisory table, different hospital associations and educators. Clark declined to say if there are any current plans to reopen schools this year.
The president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario called for more health and safety supports. Does this mutation pose an increased risk to students and education workers? At the time, Ford said a decision had not been made on schools because medical officials and education workers could not agree on the best way forward. "And I know those public health units will work closely with the respective school boards that they have in their local regions to make the kind of local decisions that will serve the interests of the system, the school system, and serve the interests, most importantly, of our kids and their parents".
"While we have not received any indication yet from the Ministry of Education with regard to students possibly returning to in-person learning, if we were directed by the Ministry to return to in-person learning this school year, we should be able to get up and running relatively quickly - perhaps a few days", TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said in an email on Wednesday. "Keeping children safe is our foremost consideration, which is why as experts in health, public health and education we are seeking your perspective".
In Peel Region, the top doctor said his health unit was in discussions with the government as it looks at a "provincial-wide decision related to in-person learning".
Kurji said local medical officers of health have the most data and should be granted the "liberty of deciding" whether schools reopen for in-person learning.
A recent study from Public Health England by the United Kingdom government indicated a single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine was just 33% effective against the COVID-19 variant first identified in India.
While provincial case counts have fallen significantly in recent weeks, experts project a jump of up to 4,000 cases by the end of July if schools open in June.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants a consensus on schools reopening. This is concerning. At the same time we know other jurisdictions are seeing a rapid increase in new, more unsafe variants that are more contagious, make people and children in particular sicker, are potentially more deadly and are more resistant to vaccines.
All Ontario schools were switched to remote learning only, following a week-long spring break in April.
Meanwhile, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, and Dr. Lawrence Loh, de Villa's counterpart in Peel Region, said they are still waiting to see if COVID-19 case counts drop further in their jurisdictions.
Lyons, who is part of the Ontario Parent Action Network advocacy group, said she's concerned by the heightened risk from COVID-19 variants, the lack of upgrades to safety measures and the fact that teachers and students are not yet fully vaccinated.
As Premier, my priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has always been to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.
"The feedback I have had as of today is that all the ones around the GTHA say they have conducted case and contact management and they're prepared to have their schools open", he said.
Ford is looking for responses to his letter no later than 5 p.m. on May 28.