Toronto Public Health issues new order limiting in-person attendance at all schools

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 7th, 2021

Health officials in Toronto have issued an order requiring schools and other educational settings to limit in-person attendance for most purposes, not just classes, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Toronto Public Health says the order is meant to supplement the provincially mandated school closures and will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

The agency says the new rule applies to all educational settings, not just those designated as schools or private schools under the Education Act.

And it says in-person attendance by students is restricted “as much as possible” regardless of whether it’s for teaching or other instruction.

It says there are some exceptions, such as day care services and instruction for children with special needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning.

The order comes in the wake of concerns raised by residents who reached out to CityNews, describing hundreds of students and staff going in and out of private schools in the Bathurst and Lawrence area. The schools claim that they were closed for in-person learning but are operating as a place of worship and hold religious services for children.

The City said it was aware of the situation and commenced an investigation, noting that enforcement may have been due to ambiguity around the wording of regulations.

The order is aimed at education providers, and the agency says parents cannot be charged under the new rule, though they are encouraged to comply.

Toronto Public Health says the move is necessary because the city continues to see extensive community spread of COVID-19 variants of concern, and the risk of transmission is highest indoors.

It says the provincial order halting in-person classes only applies to institutions deemed a “school or private school” under the Education Act, and does not prohibit children from attending schools for purposes other than attending classes.

The agency says its order is aimed at “supplementing the schools closure in order to stop school-aged children from congregating indoors, in enclosed spaces, for extended periods, on a regular basis.”


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