While provincial case counts have fallen significantly in recent weeks, experts project a jump of up to 4,000 cases by the end of July if schools open in June.
"It's the end of May, and just now Mr. Ford is asking health and education experts for feedback?"
But as it stands right now, COVID-19 indicators aren't good enough to move into Phase 1 early.
"The sooner we can get more people vaccinated, the sooner we're going to see things like case rates go down, hospitalizations go down, intensive care units not be as full as they are", she said. That is why we want to take a gradual approach to returning. It notes a lack of consensus on how, when and whether schools should reopen. This is concerning. At the same time we know other jurisdictions are seeing a rapid increase in new, more risky variants that are more contagious, make people and children in particular sicker, are potentially more deadly and are more resistant to vaccines.
Vaccines remain our best defence against COVID-19. To date, Ontario has successfully administered more than 8,530,000 doses.
"Because there are a wide variety of metrics involved, in addition to the vaccination rates, it is possible that we could reach the level of getting to Stage 1 before June 14", she said on May 20.
As Premier, my priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has always been to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.
"I know those public health units will work closely with the respective school boards that they have in their local regions to make the kind of local decisions that will serve the interests of the school system and that will serve the interests, most importantly, of our kids and their parents".
Ultimately, this is our government's decision, but in light of the foregoing, and the diversity of perspectives on the safety of reopening schools, I am asking for your views on a number of issues.
Is the reopening of schools for in-person learning safe for students?
There's also the risk of variants entering the classroom and Ford says his goal is to keep all students and school staff safe.
There are a growing number of cases in Ontario of the variant first identified in India (B.1.617). "While the chief medical officer of health has confirmed that schools have been safe, we will continue to work with him, with other medical experts and education partners across Ontario on a path forward, as we continue making progress in our battle against COVID-19", Clark said.
It said, "With improving provincial and local trends, Dr. Wang supports a return to in-person learning before we begin to lift restrictions more broadly as part of the three-step process to re-opening in Ontario".
Other countries are warning mutations including the B.1.617 variant45 are putting children at much greater risk and are shutting schools down.
Meanwhile, Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has been largely non-committal about the possibility of resuming in-person learning in June.
Under Ontario's reopening plan, indoor gatherings won't commence until July.
Ford is seeking a response from 55 recipients, which include children's hospitals, health organizations and various medical experts, by 5 p.m. tomorrow, May 28.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca also lamented the closure of schools during a virtual press conference on Wednesday morning in which he also called on the Ford government to give individual public health units the latitude to decide whether or not it is safe to resume in-person learning.