OMA: Make Ontario's Schools the Safest Possible


Saturday, September 5, 2020 2:23:00 PM

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) encourages the Ontario government to use the funds announced today by the federal government to make Ontario's schools the safest possible.

Schools are expected to start reopening soon, leaving many parents wondering whether they should send their children to school, and if so, how do it safely.

"Every parent wants to ensure their children are as safe as possible. Because every child's needs and circumstances are unique, parents will have to make the decision about what's best for their child, and their family," said OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill. "What we do know is that there are several measures that have been proven to reduce transmission and if those are in place it significantly lowers risk".

Ontario's doctors remind parents that simple steps that have helped contain the virus in the community will help contain the virus in schools. The best available evidence shows that wearing masks, physical distancing and frequent handwashing are the best defense against spreading COVID-19. Contact tracing and testing are also critical. Extra funding to support these areas and to keep class sizes smaller would be welcomed.

In addition, this year more than ever it is important that children and parents are up to date on their immunizations, including the flu shot.

"While we know the government has worked hard to get school reopening right - this is a very complex situation - one that is constantly changing," said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "In times of such uncertainty there is value in continuing to do what's working, to stay focused on what we can expect, and to follow the advice of local public health officials."

Low community spread is key for the safe reopening of schools. It is important for the public to be aware that based on experiences from around the world, we can expect there will be local outbreaks. The OMA is pleased by the news that Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner for Ontario will lead the province's outbreak management team. Medical Officers of Health in each community will continue to work closely with the government and schools to manage and minimize these outbreaks with a goal of keeping everyone as safe as possible and avoiding a province-wide lock down. These strategies will not be a 'one-size fits all' approach; they will be tailored to the needs of the community.

It is clear that COVID 19 impacts different communities in different ways. As Ontario moves forward with reopening, not all families and individuals will experience equal burdens. We encourage the government to continue looking for ways to mitigate those discrepancies and to protect our most vulnerable.

Ontario's doctors continue to work hard to keep the public healthy and safe. Infectious disease specialists and public health doctors are working with government, offering the best possible science-based advice every step of the way. Meanwhile family doctors, pediatricians and other specialists continue to care directly for patients to meet their health care needs.

SOURCE: Ontario Medical Association