Mississauga, Brampton schools won’t close again due to COVID-19, says Peel’s top medical authority

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Published January 13, 2022 at 1:40 pm

Mississauga and Brampton schools will not be shut down again due to COVID-19, says the Region of Peel’s top medical official.

With students and teachers in Mississauga and across the province set to return to in-class learning on Monday, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh says he understands parents’ concerns for the safety of their children.

However, he points out that “we are in a very different situation from previous waves” of the virus, and he fully supports the Ontario government’s decision to reopen the schools.

“I know there’s a lot of concern and anxiety out there, but I have to point out that we are a highly vaccinated population…,” Loh said this morning at the City of Mississauga’s weekly COVID-19 update.

Loh said that with a high vaccination rate in Peel of people aged 12 and up, and with numbers of 5-to-11-year-olds getting their shots creeping slowly upwards, he doesn’t anticipate schools having to close again.

“I strongly, strongly do not foresee a possibility where we would consider closing the school system again. There is a reality that schools often do remain open, even pre-pandemic, with the recognition that there are certain risks that are inherent to the school setting, infection or otherwise, and I don’t believe it would meet that threshold for closure,” said Loh.

“So, I think certainly the big thing is for people to continue  taking the steps that we know will protect them not just in the school setting, but in any setting in our community–getting vaccinated, staying home if you’re sick, wearing a mask, ventilation…”

Yesterday, the Ontario government announced several safety measures to support the safe return to the classroom for students, teachers and other school staff.

Among the initiatives announced by Education Minister Stephen Lecce, students and teachers in Mississauga, Brampton and across the province will receive two rapid tests apiece upon their return to school.

The Ontario government says it’s also providing teachers in Mississauga and across the province with some 9.1 million N95 masks and students with four million three-ply face coverings in efforts to help reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, specifically the highly contagious Omicron variant.

In addition to the protective masks and two rapid test kits being supplied to every staff member and student, the Ontario government also promised the following protective measures:

  • 3,000 additional HEPA filter units for classrooms (in addition to 70,000 provided earlier)
  • rapid tests will be provided to all childcare centres and schools
  • launching of school-based vaccination clinics to improve uptake in children aged 5 to 11
  • cohorting protocols for lunch, recess and sports

While daily student absence counts for schools/school boards will be posted online starting Jan. 24, families will only be notified by local public health units when their school reaches 30 per cent absenteeism.

That threshold includes all reasons for students being off school, not just the Omicron variant.

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