Ontario Won’t Tell Parents Of School Outbreak Unless 30% Out

TORONTO: Parents in Canadas largest province will not be notified of a COVID-19 outbreak at their childs school until there is 30% absenteeism rate among staff and students, officials said Tuesday.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce also said students will return to classrooms Monday. The provincial government had said earlier this month that online learning would run until at least Jan. 17 because of a surge in infections with the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Ontario students have spent more time learning online during the pandemic than their peers elsewhere in Canada and the U.S.

Students and staff in Ontario schools will each eventually get two rapid tests to use if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, but wont know if large numbers of their peers and colleagues are off sick until a third of the school is absent.

The province’s chief medial officer defended the decision by saying the risk of hospitalization is very low for children and less than with previous strains of the coronavirus. Dr. Kieran Moore said officials will release information on hospitalizations.

The provincial government is also providing N95 masks to teachers and staff and surgical masks to students.

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