Ontario reports all-time record high COVID-19 case count in public schools
A grade six class room is shown at Hunter's Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Monday, September 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Published Tuesday, December 14, 2021 11:20AM EST
Ontario reported a record 550 new COVID-19 cases among public school students and staff over the weekend and more than one fifth of all public schools have at least one active case for the first time this school year.
The Ministry of Education says that between the afternoon of Dec. 10 and Monday, 473 public school students and 61 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, along with 10 other people whose associations to schools were not disclosed.
Tuesday’s increase was the highest weekend count of new cases tied to schools reported in the 2021 school year.
There are 1,019 publicly-funded schools with at least one active case of COVID-19 and 28 schools are closed due to outbreaks or other operational reasons.
Toronto Public Health added one more to the list Tuesday evening, announcing that all students at Cosburn MS are being dismissed effective Wednesday due to COVID-19 spread at the school.
TPH currently lists 15 cases among students and one among staff at the school.
At this point in the 2020 school year, there were 889 schools with one active case and 18 were closed.
There are more than 2,400 active cases of COVID-19 tied to schools, representing about 20 per cent of all known active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario on Tuesday.
Across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, school boards reported 1,411 active cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, up approximately 40 per cent from one week ago.
At least 326 class cohorts are isolating at home due to exposures, but that number is likely an underestimate as several major school boards including the TDSB do not disclose class cohort isolation data.
A number of GTHA parents wrote on social media Tuesday that several school boards were advising them to bring all their children’s school materials home with them before the winter break in the event schools do not reopen in January.
The Peel District School Board said it was ordering children to bring Chromebooks and other items home as a precaution.
"Given the changing health environment, as a precautionary measure only, we have asked students to take home their school-issued devices (i.e. PDSB iPads or Chromebooks) and personal belongings in case the Ministry of Education or Peel Public Health direct us to switch to online learning," spokesperson Malon Edwards told CTV News Toronto.
Durham District School Board said it advised parents and pupils to bring everything home necessary to conduct virtual learning if need be, but that this was standard practice for the length of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we do not anticipate a shift to remote learning after the break, we want to ensure that all families are prepared,” a memo sent to parents read.
A spokesperson for the Halton District School Board said they were doing the same.
In Toronto, the Catholic board said it had not ordered children to bring all items needed for online learning home with them.
“At this time, we have not asked students to bring home all of their school materials over the holiday break. We will await any further information leading up to the break from health officials and determine if a change in procedure is required,” a spokesperson told CTV News Toronto.
There have been 10,093 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario schools since Sept. 2021.
At this point in the 2020 school year, there were 6,356 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 tied to schools.
During the entire length of the 2020-21 school year, there were 15,292 lab-confirmed cases.
The majority of public school boards in Ontario end for the winter break this Friday.