The doors at Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah will remain closed for at least another two weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak was announced a day before classes were scheduled to resume at the North York school.
Toronto Public Health is currently investigating after at least two staff members tested positive for the virus at the private school near Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue West, which focuses on Jewish education.
“To protect people’s privacy and personal health information, we do not provide information that could identify an individual,” Dr. Vinita Dubey, an associate medical officer of health with the City of Toronto, wrote in a statement on Tuesday.
“While we recognize the desire to have access to more information, we must balance the public health reason for the release of the information and the right to privacy by individual cases.”
The public health authority warned as businesses and schools reopen and more people reconnect in Toronto, it is expected that there will be increased COVID-19 activity.
“This is why we continue to recommend the four w’s: wash your hands, watch your distance, wear your masks, and keep working together to reduce virus spread in our city,” the statement said.
“To reduce virus spread in our city as we move forward living with this virus, our main message continues to be to: stay at home when sick, wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear your mask.”
Global News contacted school representatives to ask for comment on the situation. The school’s executive director said he is one of the people who tested positive and declined to comment further.
The school is working with Toronto Public Health as part of an ongoing risk assessment and contact tracing. The reopening plan hasn’t been approved as of Tuesday.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott addressed the concerns and the ministry has been stress-testing its outbreak management policies, bringing in 500 public health nurses to assist staff, students and their families at this time.
“We can’t reduce the risk to zero, that’s not possible, but we’ve done everything possible working with the Ministry of Education to make sure that we have a safe welcoming environment for students to come back into,” she said.
Medical experts predicted we will see an influx of COVID-19 outbreaks as students head back to class and while good hand hygiene and wearing masks and shields are good practice, but doctors said an influx is unavoidable.
“This is what’s happening around the world right now is that school is very much stop-start kind of activity where people are popping up positive for COVID-19,” explained Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease specialist with Women’s College Hospital.
“The concern of course with school openings is not that children are necessarily going to get very ill, but that they can pass it on to their teachers or to parents and that they can get more ill than the child.”
Experts reminded parents to keep children away from vulnerable members of their family including the elderly and those with medical conditions.