TORONTO, December 30, 2021 – As leaders in children’s health, we agree schools must be prioritized as essential during this 5th wave and we welcome the government’s commitment to in-person learning.
Parents and children have faced enormous challenges through the pandemic. Omicron is adding new stresses and unknowns. In the face of these unknowns, families deserve to know all steps are being taken to ensure schools are as safe as possible and on balance are the best place for children’s health and wellbeing. Just as we work to ensure essential services such as hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies and public transit remain open, we must do all we can to keep schools open. They are essential for the mental, physical and developmental health of children and youth and for their learning.
Education measures announced today including updated and expanding screening, distribution of higher quality masks for teachers and students, maintaining access to PCR testing, increased ventilation, and pausing high contact extra curriculars are added layers of protection. In addition, capacity limits, restrictions on gatherings and other public health measures are an essential part of any strategy to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in both communities and schools. We are asking everyone to step up for kids—not only the teachers and education staff who are working so very hard to support children and youth.
This is a dynamic situation that will require close local monitoring and responsiveness. Parents, teachers and students may still have to pivot quickly, including responding to staff shortages. But with risk everywhere in a pandemic, we believe that schools must be supported to be as safe as possible and maintained as essential for children and youth.
About the Children’s Health Coalition: The Children’s Health Coalition is a collective of children’s health organizations, including CHEO, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, SickKids, Kids Health Alliance, McMaster Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital – London Health Sciences Centre, Children’s Mental Health Ontario and Empowered Kids Ontario.