TVDSB warns of unknowns as Ontario switches from reporting COVID-19 cases to absentee rates – London

With the province switching from reporting COVID-19 cases in schools to absentee rates, there are still questions about the effectiveness of this new strategy.

As of Friday, 337 schools in the province had absence rates at 30 per cent or higher, though it’s not clear if those are all related to COVID. Of the 337 cases, 111 schools had absence rates higher than 50 per cent.

The province is no longer publishing information on COVID-19 cases in schools due to a restricted testing policy.

Locally, neither the Thames Valley nor London District Catholic school boards are showing absences at or above 30 per cent.

“These vacancies or absence rates certainly indicate some level of illness at the school levels. Whether it’s COVID-related or not, we are not sure,” said Jeff Pratt, associate director of the TVDSB.

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“We are in the middle of cold and flu season and there are many individuals that would have one or two symptoms that, based on the daily screening we are asking student and staff to do, that screening is not (passed).”

Read more:

Ontario releases school absenteeism data as kids return to in-person learning

Pratt said parents should use their own discretion on whether or not they feel it’s safe enough to send their child to school.

He said they are going to monitor the numbers and try and ensure students can stay in school, but noted they will take the lead from the health unit.

By the end of the week, he also said parents will be able to see on their website which absences were reported because a person failed the COVID screening or if it’s for another reason. Parents and staff will both have the option to report if they or their child failed the COVID screening questions when they report their absence.

While no local schools are at the 30 per cent threshold, Franklin D Roosevelt Public School in London is close at 29.5 per cent.

Read more:

More than 330 Ontario schools report absence rates of 30% or higher

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President of Thames Valley Elementary Teachers Federation Craig Smith is questioning if 30 per cent is the best number to use.

“It’s a threshold we may not ever meet,” Smith said.

“This is not an argument for pivoting, it’s an argument for safety, and if we are at 30 per cent absences due to COVID that’s a significant number of people (who) are impacted directly or indirectly by what’s happening at school.”

Smith noted the province may want to lower it if the goal is safety.

He is advocating for a return to the old model of reporting positive cases if numbers in the province drop.

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Ontario releases school absenteeism data as kids return to in-person learning

Ontario releases school absenteeism data as kids return to in-person learning

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