102 nurses will help keep Toronto schools open in Wave 4; TTC plans service boost

The TTC is planning to increase services beginning next week to help students return to the classroom safely during this fourth wave of COVID-19, and 102 Toronto Public Health nurses will be deployed to help keep schools open, the city announced Monday.“All kids need to be in school,” said Mayor John Tory, speaking at a mobile vaccination clinic held Monday at Albion Heights Junior Middle School in Etobicoke.Tory said the city is entering what is in some ways a more challenging phase of the vaccination effort, which will include more targeted efforts, including mobile clinics, which have proven to be a successful method of reaching students, Tory said.Seventy per cent of Toronto children aged 12-17 have already been vaccinated, and 81 per cent have had at least their first shot, Tory said, but as the single most effective strategy against the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination, now is not the time to rest.“We have to sort of go out and take the vaccines to the people, as opposed to the earlier stages, where they came to some of the mass clinics,” said Tory.“We want as many eligible young people as possible to be vaccinated before they head back to school.”Toronto Public Health will be monitoring COVID-19 activity “in real time,” at local schools and 102 public health nurses, including experienced nurses and some newly recruited nurses, will be available to support schools and school boards as they re-open, Tory said.“We can’t have a strong and robust reopening overall in the city of Toronto without schools that are open and safe,” Tory said.He said a return to the classroom is particularly important for students who may have fallen behind because they couldn’t learn effectively online or because they couldn’t properly access the online learning that was being offered when schools were closed.Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, urged parents to keep children with symptoms at home and to make plans in advance for coping with the possibility of having to keep kids at home.“If you have even the slightest suspicion that your child is unwell, we need you to keep that child at home and apart until it’s clear what is giving rise to their symptoms,” said de Villa, also speaking at the press conference.She urged businesses to support parents who can’t come into work when a child is sick.As it does each year, the TTC will be increasing services beginning next week to handle increased back-to-school transit demands. Subway service on the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth subway lines will be increased by 25 per cent at peak school travel times during the week; an additional 180 buses will be added to routes in the inner suburbs, including Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke, timed to coincide with opening and closing bells at high schools, and the TTC will confer with school boards to determine hot spots, the TTC said Monday.Service on nearly 30 bus routes that serve post-secondary schools and other major transit corridors will be increased or restored; service will be restored on nearly all 900-series express routes, and some additional express routes will be added.According to provincial data, nearly 82.9 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have one dose and 76.1 per cent have two doses, and an additional 694 new daily cases were reported on Monday.Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF

102 nurses will help keep Toronto schools open in Wave 4; TTC plans service boost

The TTC is planning to increase services beginning next week to help students return to the classroom safely during this fourth wave of COVID-19, and 102 Toronto Public Health nurses will be deployed to help keep schools open, the city announced Monday.

“All kids need to be in school,” said Mayor John Tory, speaking at a mobile vaccination clinic held Monday at Albion Heights Junior Middle School in Etobicoke.

Tory said the city is entering what is in some ways a more challenging phase of the vaccination effort, which will include more targeted efforts, including mobile clinics, which have proven to be a successful method of reaching students, Tory said.

Seventy per cent of Toronto children aged 12-17 have already been vaccinated, and 81 per cent have had at least their first shot, Tory said, but as the single most effective strategy against the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination, now is not the time to rest.

“We have to sort of go out and take the vaccines to the people, as opposed to the earlier stages, where they came to some of the mass clinics,” said Tory.

“We want as many eligible young people as possible to be vaccinated before they head back to school.”

Toronto Public Health will be monitoring COVID-19 activity “in real time,” at local schools and 102 public health nurses, including experienced nurses and some newly recruited nurses, will be available to support schools and school boards as they re-open, Tory said.

“We can’t have a strong and robust reopening overall in the city of Toronto without schools that are open and safe,” Tory said.

He said a return to the classroom is particularly important for students who may have fallen behind because they couldn’t learn effectively online or because they couldn’t properly access the online learning that was being offered when schools were closed.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, urged parents to keep children with symptoms at home and to make plans in advance for coping with the possibility of having to keep kids at home.

“If you have even the slightest suspicion that your child is unwell, we need you to keep that child at home and apart until it’s clear what is giving rise to their symptoms,” said de Villa, also speaking at the press conference.

She urged businesses to support parents who can’t come into work when a child is sick.

As it does each year, the TTC will be increasing services beginning next week to handle increased back-to-school transit demands.

Subway service on the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth subway lines will be increased by 25 per cent at peak school travel times during the week; an additional 180 buses will be added to routes in the inner suburbs, including Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke, timed to coincide with opening and closing bells at high schools, and the TTC will confer with school boards to determine hot spots, the TTC said Monday.

Service on nearly 30 bus routes that serve post-secondary schools and other major transit corridors will be increased or restored; service will be restored on nearly all 900-series express routes, and some additional express routes will be added.

According to provincial data, nearly 82.9 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have one dose and 76.1 per cent have two doses, and an additional 694 new daily cases were reported on Monday.

Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF