Additional Protections for Schools to Keep Students and Staff SafePublished on April 08, 2021
Schools will remain open for in-person learning during four-week stay-at-home order as education workers become eligible for vaccines
TORONTO — The Ontario government is introducing new measures to protect schools against COVID-19 which include refresher training, enhanced cleaning and asymptomatic testing. As these new measures are being introduced, the government will begin offering registration for vaccinations to education workers during the spring break.
"Nothing is more important than keeping Ontario's schools safe and open for students, staff and their families," said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. "That's why we are introducing additional health and safety measures to protect against COVID-19 while working hard to get our education workers vaccinated. Our students deserve a safe return to their classrooms on April 19 so that they can keep learning, and we are committed to delivering on that."
With appropriate health and safety measures in place, Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, has confirmed that schools remain safe. The new measures being introduced are intended to further protect schools and communities against the spread of COVID-19 and include:
- On-site confirmation of self-screening;
- Refresher training upon return from April break;
- Outdoor instruction when possible;
- Enhanced cleaning during the April break;
- Curriculum-linked activities for students;
- Letter to parents promoting best practices for a safe April break; and
- Asymptomatic testing expansion.
Under the Ontario government's plan, expanded access to asymptomatic testing is available for students and staff at pharmacies that offer testing and in 180 assessment centres across the province for the week of April 12-18, 2021.
In addition, beginning next week, education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, will be eligible to register for vaccination. Vaccinations will commence during the April break starting with priority neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel, then rolling out to priority neighborhoods in other hot spot regions, including York, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton and Durham. This will be followed by a rollout across the province as supply allows.
- 98% of schools in in-person learning areas remain open today, and Ontario has one of the lowest rates of cases for youth under 19 in Canada.
- The Chief Medical Officer of Health has confirmed that schools remain safe – and the medical community has been clear that keeping schools open is critical for the mental health and well-being of kids.
- The Ministry of Education is working with school boards to offer school-based voluntary asymptomatic testing clinics; children attending school or child care, as well as child care staff will be eligible to access this testing.
- Details with specific instructions and information will be shared with education workers regarding COVID-19 vaccination in short order.