Reopen Ontario Schools
Reopen Ontario Schools
Why this petition matters
Children and youth have experienced significant harms since March 2020 due to prolonged school closures and we now must prioritize the needs of children and youth. Numerous jurisdictions around the globe have made a commitment to keeping schools open, regardless of case counts, and we need to do the same.
The Ford Government has recently decided that Malls and Personal Care can be open at 50% capacity, while students can not learn in-person, illustrating how his government values the economy more than education. This has to change.
Furthermore, the benefits of having schools open far outweigh the risks, as illustrated below:
- The harms of school closures are extensive and have impacted academic, social and emotional, and physical and mental health domains:
- Children and youth have experienced disengagement, chronic attendance problems, declines in academic achievement, and decreased credit attainment during the pandemic.
- Children and youth have experienced significant increases in hospital mental health admissions for eating disorders and psychiatric illness (55% and 30% respectively), emergency mental health visits (25%), and urgent care mental health visits (20%).
- Newly diagnosed eating disorders in youth have risen from 24.5 to 40.6 cases per month, with hospitalizations increasing from 7.5 to 20.0 per month.
- School closures have worsened food security and have resulted in increased screen time with less physical activity and higher rates of childhood obesity
- There has been little to no COVID-19 transmission occurring in the school setting:
- Trends in new cases have mirrored that of the general population.
- When school-based transmissions occurred, the number of secondary cases was small (~1%).
- Baseline risk of COVID-19 to children continues to be low compared to adults:
- Symptomatic infection in children 5-17 is usually short with low symptom burden.
- Persistent symptoms following COVID-19 infection are rare with 98.2% of symptomatic children recovered by 8 weeks (comparable to other pediatric viral illnesses).
- MIS-C, a severe complication, occurred in only 3 out of every 10,000 COVID-19 infections in those under 21.
- Omicron variant has been found to be more transmissible, but significantly less severe:
- People infected with Omicron were 15-20% less likely to attend hospital in the UK and 80% less likely to be admitted to hospital in South Africa.
- Canadian hospitalization rates of less than 1% have been observed, with a mortality rate of 0% thus far.
In conclusion, the Ford government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health need to keep schools open, for our Children's wellbeing, and the future of our province.