Premier Ford looking for advice on kids returning to school

Premier seeks expert consensus before deciding on school reopening

Is the reopening of schools for in-person learning safe for teachers and all education staff? "In any instance, Toronto Public Health will be ready to support the direction the province chooses to pursue".

On May 20, the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health and the President and CEO of the Hospital for Sick Children Ronald Cohn penned a letter to Minister of Education Stephen Lecce and Premier Ford.

Ford goes on to cite a recent study out of the United Kingdom that showed a single dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca is only 33% effective against the B.1.617 variant first identified in India.

"Medical officers of health say the time is right to open them", Crombie, said on social media.

York Region Public Health is also strongly encouraging the province to reopen schools as early as Monday.

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said he would like to see schools resume in-person learning before the province enters the first step of its reopening plan in mid-June.

"I do hope so, because this is what we're working towards - schools should be one of the first essential services to open and we're seeing the harm to children, to families, to parents".

"What makes all this new information concerning is that ... only 41 per cent of teachers and education workers are vaccinated compared to 62 per cent of the general adult population in Ontario", Ford wrote.

Is the reopening of schools for in person learning safe for students?

But Ford said he doesn't want to rely exclusively on the advice of the province's top public health official, Dr. David Williams, who believes students should return to the classroom.

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"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.

Meanwhile, Ottawa's top doctor told city council on Wednesday that she considers COVID-19 levels low enough to reopen schools in her city. Dr. "I don't want to rush this. This is a massive decision". Dr. Steini Brown, co-chair of the Science Table, called that bump "manageable".

But on Friday, Ford indicated that he still has reservations about reopening schools.

"You can't just turn things on a dime again without planning and support", he said.

"We're going to be opening up but we're going to be opening up cautiously and carefully ... because I do not want to happen what happened before and all of a sudden, the cases go up", added Ford.

Many of those stakeholders Ford has appealed to have been increasingly vocal about both the lack of safety measures at schools and the dangers of keeping children home any longer.

"We are expecting new modelling this week that puts the range of new cases associated with school reopening between 2,000 to 4,000 cases by the end of July", Ford's three-page letter said.

Schools have been shut in Ontario since April amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections that has been steadily declining in recent weeks. "If deemed safe, a return to in-person learning would end school on a positive note for a year that saw many interruptions".

On Friday, Ford did not tip his hat about what his government's final decision might be but said that it is important to be "super cautious" and "make sure all the T's are crossed and I's are dotted" before a potential reopening of schools.

The unions also slammed the Ford government for failing to meaningfully consult with stakeholders.

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