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Ontario's stance unchanged on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for schools, Lecce says | FULL

CA, 04 Aug 2021
Ontario still will not mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students or staff when returning to school in September, unlike with other vaccinations currently required in schools, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said on Wednesday. Lecce and chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore also said they were looking into increased testing options such as cheek or saliva.

Lecce made the statement during a press conference in Thornhill, Ont., alongside Moore, Logan Kanapathi, MPP for Markham-Thornhill, and Dr. Karim Kurji, medical officer of health for York Region.

The minister also announced $25 million in additional funding for more ventilation filters for schools ahead of the planned return to school in September to help with COVID-19 protection. He said there will also be an additional $29.4 million through the Priorities and Partnership Fund to support operating costs for ventilation systems. A total of 20,000 additional HEPA units will be deployed through the funding.

The back-to-school plan was also updated on Wednesday to allow for high contact sports indoors after being approved by chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore, Lecce said.
The province's back-to-school plan says students can ditch their masks outdoors even if they can't keep a six-foot distance, play on sports teams, use instruments in music class and go on field trips this fall.

The plan that was released on Tuesday includes guidance on resuming extracurricular activities, loosened restrictions for shared spaces like libraries and cafeterias, and indoor mask requirements for students in Grade 1 and above.

Students are expected to attend school in person for full days, five days a week, unless they opted to learn remotely.

The plan emphasizes outdoor activities by allowing children to share toys and play with their friends from other classes at recess.

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