Dufferin News

Ontario teachers, exposed to COVID, may still go to class

Ontario teachers, when exposed to COVID through a spouse or other social contacts, may be allowed to go to class. This goes against the Government of Canada’s directive that isolation occurs for those who have come into contact with someone even suspected to have COVID. How is this allowed?

On August 24, 2020, the day after pre-registration closed to parents, the Upper Grand District School Board updated its FAQ page to contain the following:

If a teacher has been exposed to COVID-19 outside of the classroom (e.g.spouse, social circle contact) but has no symptoms, will that teacher be able to continue in class teaching? (added Aug. 24, 2020)

The teacher would be expected to self monitor. If they do not exhibit any symptoms they are able to continue teaching.”

Reopening Schools Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Upper Grand District School Board – August 24, 2020
"If a teacher has been exposed to COVID-19 outside of the classroom (e.g.spouse, social circle contact) but has no symptoms, will that teacher be able to continue in class teaching? (added Aug. 24, 2020)

The teacher would be expected to self monitor. If they do not exhibit any symptoms they are able to continue teaching."

Dufferin News reached out to the Upper Grand District School Board on August 25th, to get more details, but they have not commented as of this reporting. We contacted the chair of the Bluewater District School Board and director for the Ontario Public School Boards Association, Jan Johnstone, who provided the following through a tweet:

Jan Johnstone indicates that Public Health gave the direction to not forbid Ontario teachers who have been exposed to COVID from going to class. The following day, on August 26th, the Upper Grand District School Board updated their FAQ page to include an updated answer to the previously quoted question:

If a teacher has been exposed to COVID-19 outside of the classroom (e.g.spouse, social circle contact) but has no symptoms, will that teacher be able to continue in class teaching? (added Aug. 26, 2020)

Public Health would provide this direction based on each unique circumstance.

Reopening Schools Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Upper Grand District School Board – August 26, 2020
If a teacher has been exposed to COVID-19 outside of the classroom (e.g.spouse, social circle contact) but has no symptoms, will that teacher be able to continue in class teaching? (updated Aug. 26, 2020)

Public Health would provide this direction based on each unique circumstance.

The updated answer, while clearly relieving the school board of responsibility, still leaves it open for teachers to return to class after being exposed to COVID. Given Johnstone’s answer, it is quite reasonable to believe that this will still occur.

When looking at the provincial level, Ontario has provided operational guidance for COVID-19 management in schools, and as of August 28th, it stated:

Situations will arise where students, staff, or teachers may be exposed to COVID-19 outside of the school environment (for example, to family members that don’t attend the school, social contacts outside of school).

Household members and others who live with the individual who has tested positive should isolate for 14 days.

Operational guidance: COVID-19 management in schools – Government of Ontario

The Government of Ontario’s guidance, not mandate, is that household members and others who live with the individual who has tested positive should isolate for 14 days To be clear, the Ontario Government is saying that this should occur, not that it is mandated. This language is quite different in tone than what is on the Canadian Government’s website, as of August 28th:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention and risks – Government of Canada

The Canadian Government states that isolation must occur if one has been in contact with someone who is even suspected to have COVID. As we can see, Ontario’s plan for reopening schools does not align with this.

Global News recently reported that American teachers may have to teach in-class if exposed to coronavirus. It turns out that Ontario, home of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, may have the same plan.

References – Ontario teachers, exposed to COVID, may still go to class

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