The Ontario Ministry of Education has said it will no longer collect and share data on the number of COVID-19 cases from students and school staff across the province.
Previously, the Department of Education compiled data that included the number of weekday cases from local school boards.
However, on Thursday, Ontario announced sweeping changes to PCR testing eligibility, restricting resources to be used in the healthcare system, long-term care and other high-risk gathering places.
The education ministry told Global News that no sector, including the education sector, will have accurate data to report COVID-19 cases in schools and daycares due to the changes. availability of tests.
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In a memo sent to school boards across Ontario, the Ministry of Education said the on-the-go PCR self-collection kits starting in January, which have been made widely available to schools, whatever the symptoms, should now be provided to students and staff who have only symptoms. .
“The continued and modified use of the PCR self-collection kits for schools is part of the government’s efforts to reduce absenteeism among students and staff who receive a negative test result,” the memo reads.
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Regarding access to rapid antigen tests, which were previously available to students, the memo says that the supply is on hold and that the Ministry of Education is working closely with other sectors of the government. government to expand access to these tests.
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Despite a reduction in the number of reported cases, the ministry said information on school and daycare closures would be available.
The memo also asked licensed schools and daycares to continue submitting when a child, staff member, student, etc. who is normally in school or daycare has a confirmed positive case of COVID-19.
The Toronto District School Board said it is looking at how reports and notifications might happen in the future regarding COVID-19 in its schools.
Students and staff in publicly funded Ontario schools are expected to resume in-person learning after the winter break starting Wednesday, Jan. 5, after a two-day delay.
No delay has been announced for schools which were initially due to return on January 10.
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