KAWARTHA LAKES-400 Doctors from across the country are calling out Premier Ford’s decision to keep schools closed.
The doctors sent a letter to Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education and Christine Elliott, Minister of Health. Dr. Stuart Bothwell in Lindsay and Dr. Jessica Robinson, Kawartha Lakes are two of the local doctors who signed the letter.
The letter, dated June 4th asks to see the actual modelling Ford used as an excuse for the decision to keep schools closed and they want it peer-reviewed.
“The decision to keep schools closed has been justified by scientific modelling which projected a 6 to 11% increase in new daily cases with a return to in-person learning. Similar modelling was not provided for other aspects of Ontario’s re-opening plan. Importantly, the modelling on which these projections were based was not shown and the assumptions and data which informed these models were not revealed. In pursuit of scientific truth, there must be transparency and peer review, especially when the stakes are this high.”
Coronavirus related school closures have lasted longer in Ontario than any other province and will total almost 26 weeks by the end of June.
The doctors say real-world data has consistently demonstrated that schools are safe for children, education workers and communities.
“COVID -19 illness in children is overwhelmingly mild and the risk of severe illness is low. Teachers have been extensively studied over the course of the pandemic and their risk has been shown to be no higher than the general population and may in fact be lower than age-matched workers. The majority of COVID -19 infections in schools have resulted from community rather than in-school transmission.”
When it comes to the concerns Ford raised about the Variants of Concern (VOC), specifically the delta variant, the docs say there’s no evidence it is more dangerous or deadly.
“There is no data to suggest that this VOC is more virulent in children, youth and adults. While some VOC’s have been found to be more transmissible, none have been shown to be more virulent.” stated the letter.
The doctors say Ford asked for advice on what to do about schools in late May. Most supported reopening but he ignored them.
“You have chosen to ignore the answers you received and instead you have taken a stance in support of industry.” the letter said.
The doctors went on to say we can have both.
“The truth is, we can have both. Schools can be open and so can industry. Real-life data tells us that schools do not compromise communities and therefore there is no reason to believe that school reopening would delay the plan to reopen industry.”
They are asking for an in-depth peer review of the modelling, a return to in-person learning for summer school students and a commitment to restore uninterrupted, in-person learning in September.
The Ford government has not yet responded.
The government would not answer our questions about why 5,500 daycares remain open but schools are closed.