Experts say school will probably be cancelled for the rest of the year in Toronto
When the Ontario government announced that public schools in the province would be closed for two weeks following March break, it seemed as though a closure of this duration might be enough.
But experts in Toronto and across the country are now warning that school closures will almost certainly last until the end of the year or longer.
Why are none of our journalists asking @fordnation and the provincial government for clarification on school closures? It’s quite obvious our children won’t be back in class April 6. Please confirm closures til September in #Ontario so we can plan our lives. #Covid19 #CoronaVirus— Laurel Moring (@itsreLLy) March 19, 2020
It's already happened in Alberta, where school has been cancelled indefinitely (and likely at least until September).
"Evidence around the effectiveness of school closures as a means to mitigate spread indicates that closures need to go on for about eight to 12 weeks," Alberta's chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the day before announcing the closures.
"I think we would be looking at closures until the end of the school year."
Saskatchewan and British Columbia have also followed suit and suspended their school years until further notice, with no set dates to return.
According to Toronto epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite, who's working on a research project at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana school of public health, the school disruptions could go on past September.
Tuite told Global News that people should be aware that these closures could last for several months or more.
I know no one wants to hear this, but U of T outbreak modelling suggests Ontario needs to continue social distancing - school closures and working from home - for months, not weeks.— Kate Allen (@katecallen) March 19, 2020
That echoes U.K. models. Research led by @AshTuite, story by mehttps://t.co/P50UIABKQJ
"People should at least entertain the possibility that the school year may be done this year," she told Global. "I'm hesitant to speculate what will happen in September, but it's also possible that we’ll be dealing with a disrupted school year in September."
Another epidemiologist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, David Fisman, told the Globe and Mail that Alberta seems to be on the right track in terms of closing schools indefinitely — though he acknowledged that the situation is changing daily and more information is needed to know for sure.
University of Toronto-led research also suggests that extreme measures will have to remain in place for months, not weeks, if we want to give our healthcare system a fighting chance at coping with this pandemic, according to The Toronto Star.
In a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed a similar sentiment.
Trudeau said social distancing measures — including school closures — could go on for months.
"We are going to continue to follow the best recommendations from experts. We've heard anything from weeks to months," he said.
"We know this is a difficult and extraordinary time in which Canadians are taking difficult and extraordinary measures. We'll continue to do that until Canadians are safe."
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