Toronto Catholic school education worker dies after contracting COVID-19

·2 min read
Toronto Catholic school education worker dies after contracting COVID-19
Toronto Catholic school education worker dies after contracting COVID-19

A Toronto Catholic District School Board staff member has died after getting infected with the novel coronavirus, marking the first COVID-19-related death of an education worker in Ontario, according to the province.

CBC News has learned from a source that the worker was a 67-year-old woman, who tested positive for the virus on Thursday and died Wednesday morning. The source also said the woman had pre-existing health conditions.

The worker was employed at the St. Francis De Sales School in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue area, according to CUPE, the union representing education workers.

"CUPE Ontario's 280,000 members mourn the loss of our sister, a CUPE education worker at TCDSB, who passed away after contracting COVID-19. Our solidarity and condolences to her family, friends and all her union colleagues," the union tweeted Wednesday.

One class of approximately 19 students is self-isolating at home due to possible exposure to the virus, the board says. No outbreak has been declared at the school.

"We've recently learned of a tragic death of a staff member of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). This unfortunate news is a huge loss to our entire TCDSB community," said a statement on behalf of TCDSB's chief of communications Sazia Vlahos.

The board also said it is focused on supporting staff and students and respecting the privacy of the staff member and grieving family.

NDP blames government, Ford blames those not taking virus seriously

Ontario's Official Opposition released a statement Wednesday laying blame with the province for not doing more to safeguard schools including putting tighter limits on the number of students in a classroom.

"The Ontario government has not done nearly enough to keep staff and students in our schools safe. It has refused to spend the money to make classes and school buses smaller and safer," the New Democratic Party said.

"One death in our schools is too many, and we urge the Ford government to take action and cap class sizes and hire additional teachers, to curb the spread of COVID-19 and ensure our school communities stay safe."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also made reference to the death during his news conference Wednesday, while speaking about the need for individuals to take the virus more seriously.

"I'm getting so tired of these anti-maskers [saying] 'The world is fine, everyone just go out there.'"

"Again, how about their parents, how about their grandparents? How about the — and my prayers and thoughts go out to the teacher that lost her life over COVID. How about other people? Guys get it together. We're at a critical stage."

Education Minister Stephen Lecce also tweeted his condolences Wednesday, saying: "We must do everything we can do reduce the risk of COVID-19 in our communities."

It's unclear where and how the worker contracted the virus.

Toronto Public Health declined to provide further details, citing privacy reasons.