How Will Back to School 2021 Look Like This September?
As we are getting near September, parents are becoming anxious to see how the new school year will look like, even though we learned by now that anything can change dramatically in a matter of days.
Ontario's schools stayed closed longer than any other province since the pandemic began. This school term Ontario's more than two million students (and maybe their parents more than the students) are hopeful that back to school will resemble some sort of normalcy and will look much better than last year. Even with the Delta variant progressing exponentially we have reasons to believe this year will be a better one. We have better tools at our disposable. For one, Canada reached a full vaccination rate around 60% which is significantly better than many western countries (fully-vaccination rate is 15% worldwide).
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Kieran Moore is also optimistic. "I really don't see our schools closing going into the fall, winter and spring... we will do our utmost to keep the schools open for all students and families."
This week Ontario unveiled its long-waited back-to-school plan, which includes:
- In-person learning + Online learning option offered
- Elementary Students to be cohorted
- High school students continuing with the quadmesters
- Mandatory Masking for Grade 1 and up and all staff (not for kindergarten students)
- Full return to extracurriculars, sports, trips, interschool competitions
- Open the school cafeterias, libraries, labs
- Vaccines are encouraged but not mandated. Fully immunized students and staff would face minimal interruption from work or school if they come in contact with a "high-risk" carrier of the virus and test negative for COVID-19. However unvaccinated students and staff would immediately have to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and require at least two negative COVID-19 tests, seven days apart, before returning to school.
- Literacy test to be waived for 2021 graduates
- Required volunteer hours to graduate reduced to 20 hours from 40 hours
There is also the previously made announcement for the $500 million funding of the new HEPA filters in all classrooms which should ensure better air quality indoors. There is expectation that this funding will be boosted.
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There is reason to be optimistic but there is also reason to be cautious. Florida hit 115,515 hospitalizations this Tuesday, breaking last year's record for the third straight day. Hospitalizations have increased 11 times and about 2400 patients are in ICU. However Florida Governor De Santis is not worried: "We are not shutting down. We are going to keep the schools open. We are protecting every Floridan's job in this state. We are protecting small businesses." In the meanwhile, US's full vaccination rate lingering around 50%, highly-influencing public figures like Oprah is urging people to get vaccinated.
If we look at the worldwide statistics we see a trend going up in the number of cases.
As one of the early hot spots of Corona virus pandemic, the city of New York is also taking serious steps towards another year with the pandemic. As of Tuesday, about 66% of NYC residents are fully vaccinated, with $100 incentives offered for residents. Delta cases makes up 72% of the all reported cases in the past 4 weeks. NYC will require proof of vaccination for indoor dining, gyms and entertainment venues. NY Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Key to NYC Pass, which will come into effect on Sep 13th. "Not everyone is going to agree with this and I understand but for so many people this will be a life saving act." Blasio hopes that this model will be copied by the rest of the country . While House Covid-19 advisor Slawitt also agrees: "This will stand between being another bad year and a year when people get their lives back.
In the meanwhile in our province of Ontario, we have 60% of our population fully vaccinated and about 70% received their first dose. 7-day average of daily cases rose to highest point in about four weeks. The seven-day average of new daily infections is up to 201, the first time it has risen above 200 in nearly four weeks.
Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:
- Tests completed: 23,173 total over the two days covered by this morning's data
- Province wide test positivity rate: 1.3 per cent
- Current number of active cases: 1,717
- Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 106 as of Monday evening; 78 needed a ventilator to breathe
- Death toll: 9,349
- Vaccinations progress: Roughly 70.3 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and older have had both shots, while about 71 per cent of all Ontarians have had at least one dose
As we near September and we watch the Delta variant progressing, we urge Canadian families to be cautious, continue to wear a well-fitting mask especially when you are indoors, wash your hands often and keep a safe distance with others.
We at Proteq offer multiple ways to protect your family and loved ones.
One of them is our signature Silver Ion Antimicrobial masks that come in multiple solid colours matching your mood or wardrobe.
We also offer a classic 3-layer cotton masks with an integrated filter layer and medical-grade masks. We also offer various value packs which are designed to ensure our kids go to school fully prepared every morning and parents are relaxed to know each day of the week is covered.
We are thrilled that schools are opening with full return to extracurriculars, sports, trips, inter-school competitions as these are the very things that make our kids' school experience fun and exciting. And we wish all students and families a healthy start to their school year 2021-2022.
Ontario Covid Response Official , CTV News, CBC News, BBC News