It’s not the school announcement that most expected. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the government is looking to receive updated COVID-19 modelling before making its announcement “early next week” on the future of the school year.
Instead, today the Ontario government asked school staff to redeploy to congregate care settings like long-term care homes during the COVID-19 outbreak. The redeployment would be voluntary and only for those who are not directly involved in current ‘at-home’ learning.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says the action “hasn’t been necessary” up until this point. Elliott also says it’s just a tool they can use to mobilize quickly.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says education workers in Kenora have already volunteered to work in local hospitals.
“It is inspiring to see our school boards, trustees, and labour leaders come together and provide education workers with the opportunity to support our frontline workers and take care of our most vulnerable,” said Premier Doug Ford.
Ford says the province has “done everything it can” to get more resources for long-term care homes, including other health care providers, volunteers and the armed forces to support homes. He thanked education staff – not involved in at-home learning – for their help as well.
Minister Lecce said they know they must do more to care for seniors and that’s why this agreement is so important. “It will help pave the way for more staff to be deployed to help give dignity, support, and comfort to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Lecce.
Starting later this week, subject to a local agreement of the framework, eligible education sector staff who volunteer will be able to register through an online portal and to be matched with congregate settings that are facing staffing shortages.
Canadian pediatricians warned about mysterious syndrome
Canadian pediatricians are on high alert for an acute inflammatory disease, similar to Kawasaki disease, that impacts children diagnosed with COVID-19.
A Public Health Alert issued by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program asks Canadian pediatricians to report cases of children whose symptoms look similar to Kawasaki disease.
While cases in Canada are rare, the alert says some patients have “deteriorated quickly.” The New York City Health Department issued a similar alert last week. Today, Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that the province has updated their COVID-19 case definition.
“While the link between this inflammatory illness and COVID-19 has not been confirmed,” Elliott says the province has taken steps to include multisystem inflammatory vasculitis as an atypical presentation in children in its case definition.
“Recent reports in Canada and internationally indicate that there may be an increase in multisystem inflammatory vasculitis, a rare but serious multisystem inflammatory illness that impacts children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19,” said Elliott in a statement.
Some of the symptoms associated with this illness include persistent fever, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as rash. Parents should contact their health care providers immediately if their children are having these symptoms.
Recent data in Canada indicates that the majority of COVID-19 infections in children are mild and do not require hospitalization. People under the age of 19 make up five per cent of COVID-19 cases and no Canadian children are known to have died.