OTTAWA | Students in Ontario and Quebec will return to school on Monday, a week after those in Columbia. British where Omicron does not seem to have succeeded in derailing the school system.
“Basically, we are going to the Wild West”, summed up Erica Potter, a teacher in Ottawa.  ;
Like many, she is concerned that Ontario, like Quebec, has decided to no longer count positive cases of COVID-19 in schools. Ontario principals will now have to notify Public Health when they count 30% or more absenteeism.
British Columbia no longer counts cases in schools, but investigates when there are 10 % absenteeism in a school. And, as will those in Quebec, teachers in the West returned to class on January 10 without N95 masks.
If British Columbia responded that it lacked the funds to provide these expensive masks, Ontario did not hesitate to loosen the purse strings very widely.
In addition to providing N95s to all its teachers, the province has spent $600 million on classroom ventilation. All Ontario students will also receive two rapid tests at school, starting Monday.
Not so in British Columbia where students and their teachers have actually returned to class after an extra week off, in nearly the same conditions as in December.
Schools are safe
British Columbia's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Bonnie Henry, maintains that schools are “the safest place for our children”, are “essential”, and are not not “a major source of transmission” of the virus.
As in Quebec, school closures have been limited there since the start of the pandemic. Ontario, on the other hand, is the jurisdiction in the country where they have been closed the longest: 27 weeks since March 2020.
At the moment, schools in British Columbia seem to be holding their own in the storm: only two had to close temporarily this week due to lack of staff and virus transmission is declining, according to models presented by Dr Henry yesterday.
Going forward, the province is considering making mandatory vaccination mandatory for more professions. Dentists and massage therapists could be next on the list.
A Vancouver-area school board has already imposed it on its teachers and staff, and several more are considering doing so.< /p>
In Ontario, teachers have already been required to be vaccinated since the fall and the debate is beginning to arise over the immunization of schoolchildren. They must already be vaccinated against polio, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, measles and mumps to attend school.