Ontario's publicly funded schools report another 170 COVID-19 cases but growth appears to be slowing
Published Wednesday, September 29, 2021 10:49AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 29, 2021 6:56PM EDT
Ontario’s publicly funded school boards are reporting another 170 new school-related cases of COVID-19, though it appears as though the rapid rise in infections that coincided with the resumption of classes could be slowing.
The latest tally is down from the 179 cases reported at this time last week, marking the third straight day that Ontario has seen a decline in numbers from the previous week.
Ontario’s rolling seven-day average is still up marginally from last Wednesday – 125 compared to 118 – but it appears as though cases are no longer growing at the same rate after nearly doubling over the previous seven-day period.
The latest figures come one day after the release of new modelling which warned that Ontario is facing a “fragile” situation in which cases are declining overall but growing among school-aged children between the ages of five and 11, all of whom are ineligible to be vaccinated.
Officials, however, do continue to insist that schools are safe and that transmission within classrooms has been minimal.
As of Tuesday at 2 p.m. a total of 808 schools had at least one case, accounting for nearly 17 per cent of all schools.
“While there have been 2,042 COVID-19 cases identified amongst the age group of students and staff who attend school in-person these cases to continue to reflect what is happening in the community setting. In school transmission has been minimal and well contained,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said during a briefing on Wednesday. “To date for the 2021-2022 school year there have been 153 outbreaks out of 215 with three or fewer cases. That is remarkable in the face of Delta which typically wants to spread from one to at least 700 individuals.”
3 more Toronto schools with COVID-19 outbreak
On Wednesday evening, Toronto Public Health declared an outbreak at three more schools.
TPH said more than two cases of COVID-19 have been linked to Humber Valley Junior Middle School, Mill Valley Junior School and Ionview Public School.
"We're carefully investigating & following our process of working with our school community to notify close contacts & ask them to stay home, monitor for symptoms & get tested," TPH tweeted.
According to the Toronto District School Board COVID-19 advisories page, the three schools have a combined total of 10 cases as of Wednesday afternoon.
There are now 16 active outbreaks at Toronto schools and three active outbreaks at child-care centres.
But it should be noted that none of those buildings have been shuttered, and the only school currently closed in Ontario due to a COVID-19 outbreak is an elementary school in Courtice.
In the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area there are currently at least 284 classes that have been switched to remote learning following a positive case, though that is likely an undercount as a number of boards do not publicly report the data.
Meanwhile, the latest data suggests that the number of active cases associated with Ontario schools now stands at 1,582, accounting for roughly 30 per cent of the province’s overall caseload.
At this time last week school-related cases only made up 16 per cent of Ontario’s active case load.
“While we are seeing an increase in cases just by nature of the schools being back in our rise isn’t necessarily something that we are particularly concerned about right now,” Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said during a briefing earlier on Wednesday. “And I will say that many of the outbreaks we have seen in school settings, while many of them have been small, a lot of them have been associated with people who didn’t’ follow the precautions. So they may have sent their kid to school mildly symptomatic or there may have been a loosening of masking or distancing within certain settings in that school. So it really is important for people to follow the precautions.”
Of the latest cases confirmed on Wednesday, the vast majority (159) are among students with the remainder among staff (11).
The good is that youth hospitalizations appear to be stable despite concerns over the reopening of schools.
According to the latest data from Public Health Ontario, there are currently a total of 15 individuals under the age of 12 hospitalized with COVID-19. That includes a dozen children between the ages of zero and four and three children between the ages of five and eleven.