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Schools in Ontario, infections skyrocket to almost 600

TORONTO – It is alarming. With the beginning of the school year, Covid infections are skyrocketed, which with the last 109 today have abundantly exceeded 500. There are 98 cases among students attending schools in Ontario, 8 among teachers and 3 non-teaching staff members infected with the Delta variant of the virus, which bring infections to 585. 

The latest count is down from the 168 new cases reported two days ago, but it is otherwise the highest number of new infections reported in this beginning of the school year in a 24-hour period. There is no need to be cheerful, in short.

Since students returned to class at most school boards last week, there has been a steady increase in the number of positive cases among staff and teens, though it’s unclear whether this could be the product of increased test volumes and guidelines requiring that some symptomatic students must test negative before returning to class.

Ontario labs processed more than 34,000 tests on Wednesday, the highest number in a single 24-hour period since early June. On Tuesday, 33,000 tests were carried out, also one of the highest numbers in recent months.

“Of course there are cases in schools. The number of cases introduced in schools will reflect what is happening in the community but we must put everything in perspective: there are over two million students in schools and we are talking about a few hundred cases – said today Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a specialist in infectious diseases – we continue to think about how to make schools safer, how to reduce the risk of bringing the virus into schools, how to slow down its transmission in the community to reduce this risk, let’s evaluate the steps we can take to create safer schools and let’s do it now. We shouldn’t pull the plug on schools this year.”

The 109 new school-related cases reported today represent about 12.6% of the overall infection burden in the province, up from the previous day, when they made up about 8% of cases.

The ministry says there are now cases in 348 schools, but only one of them, St. Joseph’s High School in Windsor, has been closed due to a Covid-19 outbreak. However, there are dozens of other classes from other schools that have been transferred to distance learning as a precaution following the detection of positive cases.

And the situation that day by day takes on more serious tones is once again a reason for controversy and confrontation with the Ford government for NDP leader Andrea Horwath: Covid cases in schools, she said, show that mandatory vaccines are necessary for all staff, along with the creation of smaller classes. Indeed, Horwath pointed out, the Covid vaccine “must be added to the list of those already mandatory for children eligible to receive it”.

“My thoughts go to the students already sent home, a few days after the beginning of the school year, and to the kids who have waited months to return to class, only to have their extracurricular activities taken away again – said Horwath – we can do more to stop Covid, protect children and prevent interruptions of the school year. We want mandatory vaccines for all school staff, not that Doug Ford cares about anti-vax. We want smaller classes, not 30 or more children crammed into a classroom. And we want the Covid vaccine to be added to the existing list of mandatory vaccinations.”

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