The Ontario government is set to reveal its plans for reopening schools in September later today, as the province reported 89 additional cases of the novel coronavirus.
The announcement from the Ministry of Education comes just six weeks before back-to-school season and a week before the deadline the province’s 72 school boards were initially given to outline their plans for the academic year.
The province had previously asked school boards to prepare for three scenarios come September: regular in-class instruction with physical-distancing measures in place; full-time remote learning; and a hybrid model blending both approaches.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce initially expressed a preference for the hybrid model, which would see no more than 15 students in class attending on alternating days or weeks.
More recently, he expressed a preference for full-time, in-class learning.
Government opposition critics, school boards and unions alike have said that if classes are to resume full time, the province will have to significantly increase spending on education so that staff and students can be kept safe from the coronavirus.
Yesterday, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children released its own newly revised guidelines for reopening schools. The recommendations include staggered lunch times, no large assemblies, and mandatory masks for older students.
89 new coronavirus cases
Ontario’s Ministry of Health reported just 89 newly confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus this morning — a second straight day with fewer than 100 provincewide.
Twenty-eight of the province’s 34 public health units saw five or fewer new cases, while 17 of those 28 reported no additional cases at all, Elliott said.
The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness declined, as did the number of those in intensive care and on ventilators, she said.
After a brief uptick in the middle of July, the five-day rolling average of new daily cases — a measure that smoothes peaks and valleys in the data — has been in consistent decline for the last week or so.
Ontario has now seen 39,075 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, about 89.3 per cent are considered resolved.
There are currently just under 1,400 active cases of the illness throughout the province.
The ministry’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by three today and is now 2,772. A CBC News count based on data provided directly from public health units, a figure that avoids lag times in the provincial reporting system, puts the real toll at 2,806 as of yesterday evening.
Today’s figures come one day after the province announced that Toronto and Peel Region, its two most populous areas, will move into Stage 3 of the COVID-19 recovery plan this Friday.
Stage 3 allows for activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows and the reopening of movie theatres and playgrounds. It also permits larger gatherings of people, though physical distancing requirements remain in place.
Windsor-Essex, the only public health unit that has not been given a green light to proceed into Stage 3, logged 15 new cases of COVID-19 today.