Ontario School Absentee Publishing Explained

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is making people concerned about their own and their loved ones’ health. Parents are particularly concerned about the health and well-being of their children and hence are not sending children to schools. It happened in Ontario recently when more than 330 schools reported absence rates of 30% or higher by the end of last week after students were allowed to return to school after a while. Interestingly, about 111 schools had absence rates of more than 50%.

Restricted Testing Policy

The province is not publishing information regarding COVID-19 vases in schools which is due to a restricted testing policy. However, it is sharing data on absences online, whether they are COVID-related or not. According to new guidelines in the province, families will only be notified when 30% of students and staff members are absent.

However, Toronto School Boards still need to inform the impacted classes of any positive case of COVID-19.

The Ministry has also decided to make school-by-school absence data available each weekday for the previous day. This crucial data will be uploaded by 10:30 a.m. each day on this website.

Stephen Lecce, the Education Minister, said this on Monday “During a period of uncertainty around the world, we want parents to have greater knowledge about the rates of absenteeism in their schools. This ensures parents have daily access to rates of absenteeism. It also allows families with the use of rapid tests layered into that knowledge, the ability to take immediate action at home should their child be symptomatic. All of this, including the enhancements to our PPE, the accelerated access to boosters, it is all designed to support in-class learning and reduce risk.”

The Data on Absentees

The data that says that over 330 schools reported absence rates of 30% or higher and 111 had absence rates of over 50% was a part of the data made available for 3,451 schools. The province has 4,844 schools, so the data of some schools was unavailable.

One interesting statistic is that the Niagara Catholic District School Board had an absence rate of 100%, and 21 schools had an absence rate of over 80%. One of the schools that had reported the highest absences is in Toronto, two are in Parry Sound, and three are in North Bay. Data says that Kenora, South River, and Sturgeon Falls also had one school at least with the highest absence rates. About 16 of the schools in the province were closed as of Friday.

The Previous Steps

The government of Premier Doug Ford had chosen to close schools for two weeks earlier this month when the Omicron cases were rising. At that time, he said that the province cant guarantee that schools could be kept open as the Omicron spread was rising, and it was likely to leave many people unable to work due to exposure or infections.

More Disruptions Ahead

Unions have warned families to prepare for more disruptions related to the new variant. Learn more about the disruptions here.








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