Ottawa schools stay open as GTA schools close

As school boards across Ontario grapple with the decision to remain open or to close as the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic surges, boards in Ottawa are reporting 245 active COVID-19 cases within their school communities.

Toronto schools have been told to close as of Wednesday, sources told CTV News Toronto, forcing students and teachers to switch from in-person classes to remote learning. Schools in nearby Peel Region switched to remote learning starting on Tuesday.

However, Ottawa's medical officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches says she believes schools in Ottawa should remain open, despite co-signing a letter to the province's chief medical officer of health that asked, among other thing, to move schools to remote or hybrid models in areas where outbreaks are significant.

In a letter to directors of education for the four boards, Etches said the situation in schools is currently manageable.

"The vast majority of COVID-19 in schools originates with community exposures. Situations identified in schools where there was a possible exposure do not usually lead to transmission in schools," Etches wrote. "Child-to-staff and child-to-child transmissions remain rare in the school setting. At this time, schools are not a major driver of transmission of COVID-19 and so closing them alone will not turn this current COVID-19 resurgence around."

Etches urged the school community to remain vigilant.

"I ask that teachers, administrators, school staff, parents and students all continue to do their part to strictly follow the COVID-19 precautions in schools and to limit close contacts before and after school to members of their household," she said. "This is not the time to let up on our diligence to keep each other safe."

CASES BY SCHOOL BOARD

  • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board: 86 active student cases; 24 active staff cases.
  • Ottawa Catholic School Board: 69 active student cases; 12 active staff cases.
  • Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est: 34 active cases of COVID-19 among students and staff
  • Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario: 13 active student cases; seven active staff cases

The data comes from each board's respective COVID-19 reporting page. 

According to Ottawa Public Health, there are eight schools with active COVID-19 outbreaks.

  • St. Elizabeth Elementary School
  • St. Gabriel Elementary School
  • St. Leonard Elementary School
  • St. Isidore Elementary School
  • Connaught Public School
  • Fallingbrook Community Elementary School
  • Sacred Heart High School
  • École secondaire publique Louis-Riel

There are also two daycares with active COVID-19 outbreaks: St. Luke’s Child Care Centre and Centrepointe Home Daycare.

St. Leonard Elementary School announced on Monday that it would be closed for the week as of Tuesday. Connaught Public School will be closing as of Wednesday.