COVID cases have kept rising at Jewish schools in York Region during November 2021

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COVID cases continue to pop up in Jewish schools in York Region, just north of Toronto—but no day schools have been closed.

As of Nov. 11, Netivot HaTorah Day School had 19 cases among students. Eitz Chaim School recorded three cases among students and one among staff. The outbreak at Joe Dwek Ohr HaEmet Sephardic School was recently declared by public health to be no longer ongoing. Earlier this month, the school recorded 22 cases among students and three among staff.

Meanwhile, St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School, in Schomberg, Ont., part of York Region, was closed this week, and will re-open Nov. 15.  Pop-up COVID testing was being offered at the school on Nov. 12.

The decision to close a school is made collaboratively by the school board and public health, according to an email from Patrick Casey, director of corporate communications for York Region.

Public health looks at several factors, including “evidence of widespread transmission within and among different cohorts, infections reaching high proportions of the overall student body (and) high number of cohorts dismissed.”

Students are contracting COVID from a number of sources, including “household contacts, local transmission and transmission within cohorts,” Casey said.

An outbreak is declared when two or more cases are confirmed, and at least one case could have been acquired in the school over a 14-day period. Case counts include both confirmed and resolved cases, according to the York Region of Public Health’s website.

At Netivot for instance, as of late last week, just one class was in isolation, with four students who had COVID, Rabbi Rafi Cashman, head of school, said in an email to The CJN. When a class is in isolation, learning moves online.

“We have increased our cleaning protocols, ensured our cohorts remain separate, and follow our regular COVID protocols both in school and in the event of a case,” he said.

No COVID cases in Jewish day schools are currently reported by Toronto Public Health.