Dec 29, 2021

By Bob Komsic

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Over 500 doctors in Ontario have signed an open letter to the premier, chief medical officer and education minister calling on the government to keep schools open after New Year’s weekend.
”We are a group of physicians who are deeply concerned about the use of provincial school closures to control the spread of COVID-19,” they state in the opening of their letter.
”Children and youth have experienced significant harms since March 2020 due to prolonged school closures and we now must prioritize the needs of children and youth,” the letter goes on to read.
”Numerous jurisdictions around the globe have made a commitment to keeping schools open, regardless of case counts, and we need to do the same.”
The doctors are recommending protecting in-school attendance utilizing a ”test-to-stay” strategy, whereby students, their siblings and teachers remain in the classroom following a close-contact exposure, with frequent rapid antigen testing.
The physicians say frequent testing, such as every second day, of school-based contacts has shown to be equivalent to self-isolation.
They also point out two Utah-based ”test-to-stay” programs implemented over a four-month period saved over 100,00 in-person instruction days for nearly 60,000 students.
”School closures are harmful for children without appreciable benefit in terms of COVID-19 transmission.  We need to re-write the popular phrase ‘schools should be the last to close and the first to open’ and replace it with ‘schools are an essential service and must remain open’.”   
Premier Doug Ford has promised a decision this week on whether schools will re-open for in-class learning next week.
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