Schools won’t be forced to close if there’s an outbreak.
Residents all over the province have recently had their eyes on Ontario’s back-to-school plan. Today, that plan was expanded to include protocols for a potential outbreak within a school. The full plan was just released in a provincial operational guide.
“Our schools are equipped to handle COVID-19 outbreaks,” Premier Doug Ford said on Thursday.
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An outbreak in an Ontario school is defined as two or more cases among students or staff “with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school,” according to the guide.
Ford stated that if someone in the school tests positive, contract tracing will kick in immediately.
In some cases, cohorts will be tested, sent home, or closed until the outbreak is over.
“You will know very quickly if your child was in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19,” he said.
In the case of an outbreak, it is not guaranteed that schools will be closed, it should be noted.
That decision remains in the hands of the corresponding public health unit. They will decide whether a child needs to be sent home, or if a “full or partial school closure is in order.”
In addition, an outbreak does not have to be declared “over” for a school to reopen.
An outbreak will be declared over “at least 14 days from the last outbreak associated case and [there are] no further symptomatic individuals with tests pending,” states the guide.
All school boards will also be required to create a COVID-19 advisory bulletin on their websites.
They will work as a hub to inform parents of potential exposure, policy changes, or closures.
The province has faced significant pushback in their back-to-school plans.
Parents have gone so far as to start a petition demanding reduced class sizes, which has garnered almost 240,000 signatures of its 300,000 goal.
Schools will begin to open on September 8th, although start dates can be delayed by up to two weeks.