Ontario reports 126 new school-related cases of COVID-19 as active infections continue to decline
COVID-19 safety information is posted on the wall of a school in Toronto, Ont., on Wednesday, Aug., 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Published Friday, October 8, 2021 10:48AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 8, 2021 11:30AM EDT
Ontario is reporting another 126 school-related cases of COVID-19 but the number of active infections associated with the public school system has declined again and is now the lowest it has been in nearly two weeks.
The Ministry of Education says that there were another 114 student cases and 12 staff cases confirmed during a 24-hour period ending Thursday afternoon.
That is down from the 170 combined cases reported over the same time period last week.
There are now 1,362 active cases associated with Ontario public schools, which is the lowest that number has been since Sept. 27.
About half of all active cases (672) are in Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area school boards, down approximately eight per cent from last week.
Meanwhile, the total number of infections since the beginning of the school year now stands at 2,975.
During the 2020-2021 school year it took until Nov. 11 to surpass that number.
Officials, however, have continued to insist that schools are safe and have said that transmission within classrooms has been “minimal.”
“The chief medical officer of health has been clear that our schools have remained safe with three robust layers of protection in place. About 87 per cent of the cases in our schools, he reported, have come from the community,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said during a press conference on Friday morning. “We have the overwhelming majority, 99.9 per cent of our schools, open today and two million kids are learning today. That's an amazing progress and that is a reflection of our collective efforts to keep the transmission levels down in the community that can be reflected within our schools.”
There are currently 774 Ontario schools with at least one active case of COVID-19 and nine buildings have been shuttered due to an outbreak.
There are also hundreds of classroom cohorts self-isolating due to positive cases, including at least 223 in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
However, the rapid rise in cases that accompanied the return to school appears to have slowed for now and Lecce said that the precautions being taken to date, including high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in every classroom, seem to be working.
“We are taking nothing for granted, especially as children and families, individuals, stay indoors more this fall,” he said. “That is why we introduced rapid testing (in schools deemed high risk).”
Schools currently account for approximately one-third of Ontario’s active COVID-19 cases.
But it should be noted that there has not been any pronounced increase in youth hospitalization numbers accompanying the resumption of classes.
According to the latest data from Public Health Ontario, there are currently 12 people under the age of 19 hospitalized with COVID-19. That is down from 22 as recently as Sept. 27.