Top health official says vaccination of children in primary school gives “hope” even when school-related cases of COVID-19 increase

The number of Ontario schools closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks or operational considerations related to the pandemic has risen again, and Ontario’s top public health official warns that we “unfortunately will see more cases in school environments” in the coming weeks and months.

The Department of Education says there are now 16 Ontario schools that have been switched to distance learning, up from 15 the day before.

This is the highest number that has been at any time this school year, and represents a marked increase from this time last week, when only five schools were closed.

Three of the closed schools are located in Toronto, including Grenoble Public School, which was ordered to close earlier this week after at least 15 students tested positive for COVID-19.

“This is the time of year when we expect an increase (in cases), and unfortunately we will see more cases in school environments, especially in primary school, where they have not benefited from the vaccine,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said during a briefing Thursday afternoon.

“The advantage, however, is that we now have the vaccine (for children aged five to 11). So for parents, I think one of the most important motivating factors for getting your child vaccinated is the reduced risk in the school environment, the social environment. or at home, because the vaccine is very effective in preventing infection, about 90.7 percent protection against symptomatic COVID-19 in the randomized clinical trials. It’s just a brilliant level of protection. “

School-related cases of COVID-19 declined steadily through most of October, but have now been rising for several weeks, surpassing the rise in infections in the wider community.

According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Education, there were 154 new cases of COVID-19 in primary school students and staff confirmed over a 24-hour period ending Wednesday afternoon.

That’s an increase from 129 cases in the same period last week.

The number of active cases linked to the public school system has increased by 24 per cent over the last week and is now 1,489.

As a point of comparison, Ontario’s active caseload has only increased by 14 percent over the same period.

During the quiz in Queen’s Park on Thursday, NDP MPP Rima Berns-McGown said parents are now looking “nervously” at the numbers because “the last time we saw the numbers rise like this, the province’s cancellation of personal classes was not too much. Far behind.”

However, Moore told reporters Thursday afternoon that the advent of pediatric vaccines for school-age children “should help limit the spread in the primary school environment” and ultimately help ensure that personal learning can continue to be offered.

“The first dose will be useful and the second dose will be hugely beneficial to Delta in terms of limiting the spread. So there is hope. I know it’s a difficult time. But there is hope now that we have the vaccine that we can have a declining impact on our primary school system, “he said.

Since the beginning of the school year, there have been 6,945 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to schools. During the school year 2020-2021, it took until December 17 to surpass that number.

The number of school closures is also well above where it was at this point in 2020, when only four schools had switched to distance learning. However, that number rose to 22 by the December holidays.

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