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Ottawa Public School Board Describes ‘His Biggest Concerns’ Before Returning to Private Tutoring

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Ottawa District School Board Chairman Carleton says “the board’s biggest concerns remain unresolved” as students and staff prepare to return to class on Monday for the first time in a month.

Mayor Lynne Scott and the board are urging the province to continue to track and publicly report COVID-19 cases in schools and implement a “Return Test” strategy for students and staff following an illness or COVID-19 exposure.

In a letter to the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, Scott raises concerns about the tracking and reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools, the lack of N95 masks for students, and the availability of tests.

Students at the Carleton Ottawa District School Board return to the classroom Monday to learn in person for the first time since the start of the December 17 Christmas holidays. Students have been engaged in online learning since January 5th.

Scott tells Lecce that administrators asked her to share a number of “specific requests” regarding the reopening of schools next week.

“The first of these is the need for ongoing tracking and public reporting of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in schools by local Public Health Units,” Scott wrote. “Reporting absenteeism levels is an inaccurate and insufficient indicator to understand the prevalence of Covid-19 cases in schools.”

The Ontario government announced this week that data on absenteeism rates will be available for each school, but parents will be notified of a possible COVID-19 outbreak in a school only when about 30 percent of students and staff are absent. .

Parents will not be notified of any COVID-19 exposure or exposure within their child’s school.

“Families should not rely on uninformed absenteeism reports or community gossip to determine if a child may have been exposed to COVID19 at school or if the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at school exceeds their tolerance for the risk of “in the light of other family members who have unique vulnerabilities to the virus,” said Scott.

Earlier this week, health medical officer Dr. Vera Etches said “word will spread” when people stay home when they are sick before school reaches the 30 percent absenteeism threshold.

Another concern for OCDSB is the availability of tests for students and teachers. Each student and staff member will receive two quick tests for COVID-19 when teaching resumes in person.

“Students and staff should have access to PCR testing in high-risk and suspected COVID-19 exposure cases,” Scott said.

“In addition, our schools need ongoing funding and the provision of rapid antigen testing for all students and staff, in support of the implementation of a Post-Illness or COVID-Test Return Test strategy.”

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board is also calling for the provision of medical masks and inappropriate N95 masks tested for students, long-term “adequate” funding for improvements to school ventilation systems beyond HEPA filters and a promise that the province will cover any expenses related to COVID-19 that are not funded from the budget.

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2/ https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/ottawa-s-public-school-board-outlines-its-greatest-concerns-ahead-of-the-return-to-in-person-learning-1.5740800

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