Schools could close after spring break, Etches warns

·1 min read
A student descends from a school bus in Ottawa last August. On Friday, the city's medical officer of health warned that it's likely schools will stay shut after spring break due to rising COVID-19 cases. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)
A student descends from a school bus in Ottawa last August. On Friday, the city's medical officer of health warned that it's likely schools will stay shut after spring break due to rising COVID-19 cases. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)

Rising COVID-19 case numbers means it's "more likely than not" that schools will remain closed after the end of next week's spring break, Ottawa's medical officer of health says.

Dr. Vera Etches delivered that news with "a heavy heart" during a city media briefing Friday afternoon.

"I know how important schools are to the health of the community," Etches said. "Closing schools will underline the seriousness of the situation and will assist people to stay home as much as possible."

Along with the rest of Ontario, Ottawa is now under a stay-at-home order until at least early May as cases surge during the pandemic's third wave.

City health officials also reported new 242 COVID-19 cases on Friday, a one-day record.

School transmission stable

The fate of elementary and secondary schools would likely be decided by next Wednesday, Etches said. Certain details, including how child-care centres would operate, still need to be worked out.

Etches maintained transmission in schools isn't "out of control," with the majority of cases connected to someone else who'd caught COVID-19 in the wider community.

"There have been new school outbreaks this week, but the overall number of outbreaks has remained fairly stable, and it's still a minority of schools that are affected by people testing positive," she said.

"My heart is heavy because I know how important schools are to the health of our community."