Peel Public Health continues to ‘monitor’ COVID trends in schools, no current plans to switch to online


Peel Public Health says it continues to “monitor trends” in schools in the region and that there are no current plans to move students to online learning because of a rise in COVID-19 cases in the community.

Representatives from public health and the school boards met Tuesday, after a meeting last week where closing schools was discussed.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health, said “at this time, no recommendation has been made to move to remote learning in our community.”

The health ministry and Public Health Ontario “regularly evaluate thresholds for consideration of remote learning across Ontario,” Loh said in a statement to the Star.

“Any such decision to apply these thresholds would be made in consultation with the Ministry of Education, local school boards and Peel Public Health. We continue to monitor trends and make recommendations accordingly in consultation with these partners.”

As Peel grapples with rising cases, individual schools have been closed because of COVID outbreaks. The public board has also instructed teachers not to “congregate with anyone else and must eat alone, as much as possible and preferably outdoors” or empty classrooms.

Under guidance from public health, the Peel boards also recently mandated face shields or goggles — for eye protection — for all school staff and any essential visitors who enter school buildings for 15 minutes or more.

Colleen Russell-Rawlins, director of education of the Peel District School Board, said in a statement that “we continue to be grateful to the educators, students, families and staff for their daily efforts and vigilance in carrying out Enhanced Safety Measures which collectively contribute to safe learning environments in schools.”

And as the province moves into the second phase of vaccinations, she said “our focus is ensuring that education workers supporting in-school learning are prioritized and look forward to supporting Peel Public Health with this effort.”

Bruce Campbell, spokesperson for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, said as of Tuesday “we have temporarily switched 12 of our 151 schools to remote learning with one of those schools scheduled to return to in-person learning tomorrow.”

One of those schools, Mississauga’s St. Sofia, is scheduled to reopen March 29. Some 17 people contracted COVID there at its peak, including three staffers who remain in hospital.

The Peel public board has shuttered three schools.



In the legislature, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said about 90 per cent of cases in schools have come from outside schools, and not transmitted within them.

He said almost all schools in the province are open and “we’re proud that we have leaned into and followed the public health advice of the chief medical officer of health. We’re also pleased to see students in schools socializing and learning for their own development and for their mental health, which I think is something that all members in the House would accept is a metric by which we need to continue to be concerned about and focused on.”


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