Toronto Public Health says it is investigating 23 schools due to COVID-19

Toronto Public Health says it is conducting “public health investigations” at 23 Toronto schools due to COVID-19.

In a news release on Monday, TPH said it will reach out to close contacts linked to the investigations. The schools include elementary, middle and secondary, public and Catholic, English and French schools. 

TPH said it is monitoring all COVID-19 activity in school settings now that students have returned to class in person.

“COVID-19 and the more infectious delta variant continue to circulate in Toronto,” TPH said in the release.

“It is not unexpected to have cases related to the school setting, even during the first week of school, as cases in school settings often reflect what is happening in the broader community.”

TPH said it is conducting case and contact management at schools in connection with COVID-19 cases to help keep students, staff and the larger community safe.

“TPH completes an investigation for all laboratory confirmed cases related to schools,” the agency added.

TPH said the investigations got underway as of 10 a.m. on Monday.

The public health unit didn’t define in the release what a public health investigation entails, but it said it declares an outbreak when there are two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases in students or staff in a school within 14 days.

That means the infection of at least one case could have been acquired in school, including during transportation and at before and after school care, TPH said.

Vaccination still ‘best defence,’ medical officer says

In keeping with provincial guidance, several public health measures are currently in place in schools to protect students and staff, TPH added. These include masking and creating cohorts of students. TPH said it also continues to recommend frequent hand washing and cleaning protocols.

In addition to these measures, TPH said it recommends that students and staff complete its screening questionnaire or use the provincial school screening tool every day and that schools confirm that the screening has taken place.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, said in the release that vaccination continues to be key to fighting COVID-19.

“It is not unexpected that we’ve started to see COVID-19 cases in our school settings as we continue living with this virus,” de Villa said.  

“Vaccination continues to be our best defence against this virus. It provides protection for those receiving the vaccine and for others around them. This is why we continue to remind everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as they are able if they have not yet done so.”

The 23 schools are:

  • Bellmere Junior Public School.
  • Central Montessori School — Maplehurst Campus.
  • Cresthaven Public School.
  • Dundas Junior Public School.
  • East York Collegiate Institute.
  • École élémentaire catholique Saint-Michel.
  • Elia Middle School.
  • Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy.
  • Humber Valley Village Junior Middle School.
  • Milne Valley Middle School.
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School.
  • Pauline Johnson Junior Public School.
  • Riverdale Collegiate Institute.
  • Ryerson Community School.
  • Senator O’Connor College School
  • Sir John A Macdonald Collegiate Institute.
  • St. André Catholic School.
  • St. Brigid Catholic School.
  • The York School.
  • Topcliff Public School.
  • West Hill Collegiate Institute.
  • William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute.
  • Willowdale Middle School.

According to TPH, its staff follow up with each COVID-19 positive case in the city.

“Case and contact management is, at its core, about investigation. Data gathered through this process helps public health determine where a person may have gotten infected, how the virus is spreading in the community, and how it can be contained,” TPH said.

As for active outbreaks in schools, the list of schools currently in outbreak can be found on TPH’s active outbreaks dashboard, under the Schools tab.

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