Kids heading back to school must learn infection protection skills

Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, speaks about the coronavirus at Queen's Park in Toronto on March 2, 2020. STAN BEHAL / TORONTO SUN

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Children returning to school should be taught to observe public health rules in the same way they learn how to safely cross the streets, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams advises.

“You do it, you do it again, you keep watching them, you observe and make sure they’re consistent in those behaviours,” Williams said Thursday. “I talk about getting the backpack ready and I’ve talked about getting the i-pack — infection prevention control — ready.”

Infection protection and control are a logical series of measures to reduce the chance of exposure to COVID-19, he said. Students need to be wearing a mask or face covering, and avoid situations where they might bunch up like in bathrooms or school buses.

Williams said he believes, as do other experts, it is best for children to return to school for their overall well-being.

Updated advice for parents will be available on the provincial coronavirus website, he said.

Ontario public health officials reported 118 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday for a total of 41,813, and an additional death to bring the number of lives lost to 2,803.

“So far we’re holding the line,” Williams said.

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There were 36 new cases reported in Toronto, 22 in Ottawa, 19 in Peel Region, 12 in Windsor-Essex, 10 in Durham Region, and a few other cases spread around the province.

Community and travel-related outbreaks appear to be response for most of the new cases, and some people are not following the federal mandate that they self-isolate for 14 days after arriving back in the country, he said.

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