Ford government unveils new COVID-19 guidelines for Ontario schools

Ontario school bus drivers concerned over lack of coronavirus health measures | News

Ontario school bus drivers concerned over lack of coronavirus health measures | News

The guidance document will help school boards and school authorities consistently implement prevention measures, maintain accurate records of staff, students and visitors, work with their local public health units, and take appropriate action when staff, students, or visitors become ill during the school day.

The new document from the government comes as school boards, teachers' unions and some parents have expressed anxiety about the province's reopening plan.

Critics lambasted the plan for failing to impose class size caps on elementary schools, saying such an approach would not allow students and teachers to practice physical distancing.

It said it planned to spend $70 million to hire more educators and $30 million on additional personal protective equipment.

According to the document, an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school within a 14-day period, where at least one person could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school (including on transportation and in before or after school care).

The guidance also applies to the province's child care centres and before and after school programs.

If a student develops symptoms at school, the principal will arrange for the student to be picked up and will ensure he or she can isolate until a parent or guardian arrives.

If a parent tests positive, they are advised to keep their children at home for 14 days.

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"I understand we would all like to be done with COVID-19 but we're not", he added. "So, when a case or outbreak occurs, we know what to do".

Ontario premier Doug Ford announced on August 26, 2020 at Queen's Park that the federal government is providing $381 million to support the safe reopening of Ontario's schools.

On Tuesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said that more than 20,000 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours.

"Barriers to return to school, such as requirement of medical notes or proof of negative tests, should be avoided", the guidance document says.

Peel continued to have the highest number of active cases in the province with 239, followed by Toronto at 226 and Ottawa with 166, the Ministry of Health said.

The president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association said boards across the province are still trying to absorb the guidance because they weren't given the materials ahead of their release to the media on Wednesday.

The plan was made in close consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.

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