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Home News America News COVID-19: Hamilton school board exec ‘pleased’ there’s some transparency with absenteeism

COVID-19: Hamilton school board exec ‘pleased’ there’s some transparency with absenteeism

Schools are now expected to report daily staff absences to local public health units to monitor disruptions and rapid tests will be issued to both students and staff if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Figueiredo says when the board will get their allotment of the 3.9 million tests promised is “the real question,” as is when their promised allotment of three-ply cloth masks for students will be received.

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“We were told that our board will receive them Monday, so just receiving them centrally and getting them out to every school … it’s going to take time,” said Figueiredo.

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“They won’t be there Monday.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government’s announcement was not detailed enough to “inspire confidence for families.”

The Hamilton MPP said the rapid test plan will not help prevent infections and that the 30-per cent absenteeism notice doesn’t give parent a clear picture of what to do should they be faced with it.

“I don’t know what the 30 per cent is supposed to provide in terms of an understanding for parents to act or not act on decisions that they’ve made about their kids being in school,” said Horwath.

Anticipating that staff will have to enter some isolation at various times following a return while the highly-transmissible Omicron variant surges across Ontario, the ministry hopes to mitigate shortages through remote days, combining classes, implementing advanced cohorting rules and using teacher candidates.

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Read more: Ontario to launch in-school COVID vaccine clinics as students, teachers head back to class

Although happy to see students coming back, Figueiredo says the real challenge going forward will be the risk of the contracting COVID versus the risks around the well-being of students.

“The question I would leave, if … education is an essential service, what would it look like to resource that essential service?” Figueiredo said.

The province is also expected to run more school-based vaccination clinics to increase the vaccination rate for students aged five to 11.

As of Wednesday, four per cent of children in that age range in Ontario had received two vaccine doses and 47 per cent had at least one shot.

During Monday’s board of health meeting, Hamilton public health revealed vaccinations in that age group have been slowing in the city.

The city’s program manager said doses had been going into children’s arms at a rate of about 650 per day betwen late November and early January.

Since then, first dose administration has slowed to about 200 doses per day.

As of Tuesday, 42 per cent of the city’s residents aged five to 11 have at least one dose while about six per cent have two.

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