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11 Toronto schools each have at least 1 possible COVID-19 variant case

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 variant cases found in several Toronto schools' COVID-19 variant cases found in several Toronto schools
WATCH ABOVE: Variants of concern have been detected among several schools in Toronto. Shallima Maharaj delves into what the province’s largest school board is doing to deal with its cases. – Feb 25, 2021

Toronto Public Health (TPH) officials say there are at least 11 schools in the city in which at least one person linked to the school has screened positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC).

In a news release issued Wednesday evening, officials said affected individuals and cohorts at the schools have been dismissed “with guidance based on their level of risk.”

Public health has followed up with close contacts and recommended testing, officials said.

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The news release said the schools are:

  • Beverly School
  • Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute
  • Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah
  • Gulfstream Public School
  • The Toronto Cheder
  • Helen Catholic School
  • Dante Alighieri Academy
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School

On Thursday, three more schools were added to the list by the Toronto District School Board: Earl Grey Senior Public School, Edgewood Public School and Pleasant View Middle School.

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Variants of concern are believed to be more transmissible than the original form of the virus that causes COVID-19.

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Officials said various measures are in place to stop the spread of variants in schools, including coordinated COVID-19 testing, masking requirements, daily screening, and cohorting.

“I feel pretty safe for now. Our school has taken really good measures,” said one student from Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute on Thursday. “[It] hasn’t bothered me too much yet. I know it spreads more easily, but I feel fine, to be honest.”

Another student told Global News it’s “kind of scary” but said, “As long as we’re all careful, I think we can lower that risk.”

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“COVID-19 VOCs are known to be spreading in the city, and the province,” the TPH news release read.

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“Recently TPH has seen an increase in VOCs. TPH is releasing this information in an effort to ensure the public remains vigilant.”

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told Global News on Thursday that they take their lead from the Ministry of Education and TPH in regard to safety protocols.

“We are not currently being advised to take any additional precautions by TPH,” he said. “They are stressing the importance of the existing safety measures we have at all the schools.

“We understand that when you hear this [the variant news], it’s concerning but we have been assured by TPH there is no need for any additional steps right now,” he continued.
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“Our existing health and safety precautions are meeting the expectations.”

Read more: Ontario reports more than 1,100 new coronavirus cases, 23 more deaths

On Wednesday, Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said over 700 COVID-19 cases in the city have screened positive for variant strains and 72 cases have been confirmed — 71 as the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., and one as P.1, first identified in Brazil.

After a person screens positive for a variant, the sample undergoes further analysis to determine if it is in fact a variant of concern and if so, what strain.

With files from Jessica Patton

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