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Schools allowed to stay open during stay-at-home order

Ford says it is critical for child mental health and well-being to attend school in-person
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Though the province has issued a new stay-at-home order, it has again excluded schools from the list of closures. 

Schools will remain open for in-person learning in Simcoe County and Muskoka District and in 30 other Ontario public health units. 

Medical officers of health in Peel Region, Toronto, and Guelph/Wellington have ordered their schools to close for in-person learning. 

Premier Doug Ford has said keeping schools and child care open is "critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario children and youth."

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner has the same opinion on school's importance for kids and family. 

"School is really very important for the emotional and physical wellbeing of children and for support for their families as well," said Gardner during a media briefing today. "If at all possible, we need to keep our students in school learning to address that need." 

The doctor said he would closely monitor COVID-19 cases linked to schools in the region, but noted most of the cases confirmed do not show evidence of in-school transmission or spread. 

"We still have a very limited amount of transmission happening in the schools," said Gardner. "It speaks to the effectiveness of the control measures in schools." 

Gardner said the Simcoe-Muskoka region is not experiencing the same case incidence rates as Peel or Toronto. 

There are four active outbreaks at schools in Simcoe County, at Boyne River Public School in Alliston (four cases), Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Bradford (eight cases), W.H. Day Public School in Bradford (two cases), and at Good Shepherd Public School in Barrie (six cases). 

Schools will continue to provide in-person learning in public health regions where it is permitted, with strict safety measures in place, the government said in a press release issued this afternoon.

In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and education workers in select hot spot areas will soon be eligible to register for their vaccinations.

The Ontario government said in this afternoon's press conference that vaccinations will start for education workers in Toronto and Peel over the April break (April 12-19).

It will then roll out to 'priority neighbourhoods' in other hot spot regions, including York, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton, and Durham, before a province-wide rollout, which Ford's government has not yet provided further detail on.

This news comes as calls for the Ontario government to vaccinate education workers grow louder. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said on Tuesday that the government should vaccinate education workers over the April break, as well as make upgrades to classrooms to reduce the spread of the virus.

Riley Smith

About the Author: Riley Smith

Riley Smith is a news editor who has been a member of the Village Media team since November 2018. A graduate of history and political science at Algoma University, these also happen to be her favourite topics to read and write about.
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