In a major announcement today from Toronto Public Health, all schools in Toronto will be closed starting tomorrow, with a tentatively planned reopening date on April 19.
It must be noted that Toronto Public Health could extend this closure if the COVID situation in our city doesn’t improve. One important note here for some parents: child-care centres that are attached to schools will be allowed to remain open, but they will not accommodate students who have had their classes cancelled.
This decision was made by Toronto Public Health after the Ford government decided not to issue a school closure order and comes in the context of most teachers and education workers still not having access to a vaccine.
Of course, this is made worse for many essential workers by the fact that we still don’t have guaranteed paid sick days in Ontario – another huge failing of the Ford government.
It was announced today that Ontario is moving into Phase Two of the vaccination plan. In Phase Two, the province will be expanding the eligibility criteria for vaccination to now include:
- Organ transplant recipients;
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients;
- People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis);
- Haematological malignancy diagnosed less than one year ago;
- Kidney disease eGFR< 30; and
- Essential caregivers for individuals in the groups listed above.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the plan announced today is that essential workers in Ontario will still not be eligible for vaccinations until the second half of Phase Two, currently slated for the second half of May and into June. We need to be doing better for these workers.
Bluntly, teachers, education workers, and other essential workers must be eligible for a vaccination now. The trends on this are clear, more and more we are seeing the concentration of COVID-19 cases in schools and in workplaces. We must protect these workers if we want to stop the spread.
You can see a visual breakdown of the plan for Phase Two here:
To read the full press release about entering Phase Two, click here.
You can see the full slide deck about Phase Two here.
Note: The AstraZeneca pharmacy vaccine program continues to operate. Anyone who is 55 or older in 2021 is eligible, and you can find your nearest participating pharmacy here.
They will also be extending eligibility, (to those aged 50 or older in 2021), in certain hotspot areas that are being designated by postal code. Here in Toronto, this is already underway through our local hospitals, but there will be an expansion of these postal codes that will include one postal code in Toronto-St. Paul’s (M6E).
You can see the full list of postal codes here:
Today, Ontario reported another 3065 cases of COVID-19, including 955 in Toronto. I want to remind everyone that we need to be taking all necessary precautions. That means that we need to be wearing our masks, maintaining our distance, washing our hands, and following the best directives of our public health experts. As COVID-19 continues to surge, we can save lives by all doing our parts to slow the spread.
Finally, a very quick piece of housekeeping. This is a special Tuesday edition of my newsletter coming off the long weekend, you can expect to receive two more newsletters this week, on Wednesday and Friday.