Children’s Health Coalition Statement
TORONTO, July 19, 2021 – The Children’s Health Coalition strongly urges the Ontario government to adopt the expert advice of the report issued today by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table supporting the safe return to in-person learning in schools this coming September.
The Table’s report makes the benefits of such a return very clear not only for development but, just as importantly, for the overall health and well-being of Ontario’s children and youth. The Coalition is especially heartened to see the emphasis placed on extracurricular activities like music, sports and clubs. These social opportunities can help address the effects of prolonged social isolation, which include lasting physical and mental health concerns for many.
The pathway to a safe return to in-person learning is as clear as the benefits. Monumental efforts have been made by many people across the province, including government, public health, hospitals and a variety of providers and organizations, to ensure every eligible person has the opportunity to get fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Significant uptake of the vaccine is happening in communities across Ontario, which will help school boards in their respective local planning for September. To support increasing vaccination rates, we are calling for province-wide communication strategies targeted to youth and parents. All Coalition members would like to offer our support and ongoing collaboration to advance these communications efforts.
Students belong in the classroom. It’s where they learn, develop, grow and thrive. Short of catastrophic circumstances taking place, schools should remain open for in-person learning this coming school year. Our children’s health, well-being and futures depend on it.
“McMaster Children’s Hospital welcomes the expert guidance provided by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, in consultation with Ontario’s children’s hospitals and others, regarding the safe return to in-person learning in September. Many kids continue to be in crisis as a result of prolonged periods of social isolation and interruption to regular routines. In-person learning and school-based extracurricular activities are absolutely critical for students’ health, well-being and development, and are an important step forward in helping families get back on track after an extremely challenging 18 months. We strongly encourage the Ontario government to include the Table’s advice in its school reopening plan, and we offer our support to our local partners to complement their efforts toward making the upcoming school year a great success.”
President, McMaster Children’s Hospital
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For more information:
HHS Communications & Public Affairs
About the Children’s Health Coalition: The Children’s Health Coalition is a growing collective of children’s health organizations, including CHEO, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, SickKids, McMaster Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital – London Health Sciences Centre, Children’s Mental Health Ontario and Empowered Kids Ontario.