Ontario won’t tell parents about school outbreaks unless 30 per cent

Officials in Canada’s largest province say parents won’t be notified of the COVID-19 outbreak at their child’s school until 30 per cent of staff and students are absent from school

TORONTO — Parents in Canada’s largest province will not be notified of a COVID-19 outbreak at their child’s school until absenteeism rates for staff and students reach 30 per cent, officials said Wednesday.

Students in Ontario are spending more time studying online during the pandemic than their peers in Canada and elsewhere in the U.S.

Students and staff in Ontario schools will eventually get two rapid tests each if they develop symptoms of COVID-19, but won’t know if a large number of their peers and colleagues are sick until one-third of schools are absent.

The province’s chief medical officer defended the decision, saying the risk of hospitalization for children is very low and lower than with previous strains of the coronavirus. Dr. Kieran Moore said officials would release hospitalization information.

Opposition NDP MP Marit Stiles said parents had a right to be informed about outbreaks in the classroom when trying to assess risk.

“Finding out if your school has a lice outbreak should be easier than finding out about a COVID outbreak,” Stiles said.

The provincial government is also providing N95 masks to staff and surgical masks to students.