Back to School in Newmarket-AuroraPublished on September 08, 2021
Following the expert advice of Ontario’s pediatric hospitals and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we have invested heavily in ventilation improvements to support safer schools. We have deployed HEPA units into every kindergarten class, into every learning space without mechanical ventilation, and many boards have gone even further — placing HEPA units in every classroom.
This cautious plan is designed to minimize disruption and maximize safety — with a focus on ventilation improvements, enhanced cleaning, strict screening, and low-barrier testing — so that your children can continue learning through the year.
While Ontario’s plan is cautious to protect students and staff, it also prioritizes learning recovery in reading and math. New supports for students for our youngest learners to those who will graduate later this year will help unlock their potential and bridge the gaps that arose last year.
In the 2021-22 school year, Ontario’s plan allows for:
- Return to in-person learning for the full school day, though synchronous remote learning will remain an option.
- Learning in classrooms supported by physical distancing, and enhanced cleaning;
- Students to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, music, and the arts, both within the school and through inter-school sport activities with some modifications; and
- Improved ventilation and other air quality infrastructure upgrades, including HEPA units in all kindergarten classrooms and in all learning spaces that are not connected to mechanical ventilation systems.
To combat the Delta variant and building on the 75.5 percentage one-dose and 63.7 percent two-dose vaccination rate for 12 -17 year olds, the government is working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to plan and host voluntary vaccination clinics in or nearby schools.
Following expert medical guidance and approved by the Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario updated the school attendance screening tool, serving as the first line of defense in keeping COVID-19 out of our schools.
Ontario Ventilation Update
Premier Ford and Minister Lecce have now delivered over $600M to support system-wide improvements in ventilation and air quality to keep schools safe. As a result of this investment and focus on improving air quality, and commitment to follow the best advice of pediatric experts, to date in schools with mechanical ventilation:
- 99.8% of the systems have been assessed and/or recommissioned to optimize air flow
- 99% of the filters are being changed more frequently and/or using higher grade air filters, including MERV-13 rated air filters
- 99% are running systems longer
- 99% have increased fresh air intake
- Over 70,000 standalone HEPA filter units and other ventilation devices purchased
Over the previous 3 school years (2018-21) school boards have spent a total of $504M of their renewal funding on HVAC improvements. In the interest of transparency, Ontario will provide school boards with a standardized public reporting tool on ventilation improvements. Building on this nation leading plan, ventilation improvements are one safety measure in a suite of protective measures that will keep staff, students and families safe at school.