COVID cases have been reported at Jewish day schools in York Region during October 2021

School bus (Credit: Unsplash)

Jewish day schools and preschools in York Region, north of Toronto, are reporting several cases of COVID, according to the region’s public health department.

As of Oct. 21, Joe Dwek Ohr HaEmet Sephardic School reported 15 cases among students and three cases among staff.

Netivot HaTorah Day School reported eight cases among its students.

Eitz Chaim School reported three cases among students and one staff case.

All these schools are considered to be in an open outbreak, defined by public health guidelines when two or more cases are confirmed within a 14-day period, “with at least one case which could have been acquired in the schools.”

Two Jewish preschools in York Region also reported recent COVID cases. The early years division of Ohr HaEmet reported one student case and three staff cases.

Gan Shelanu Jewish Israeli Daycare reported three student and one staff case.

At Netivot HaTorah, students who were required by public health guidelines to isolate did so, and returned to school by Oct. 21, Rabbi Rafi Cashman, head of school, said in an email to The CJN. “Fortunately, everyone is on the mend and there were no serious cases,” he added.

The school has a mandatory staff vaccination policy, with medical reasons as the only acceptable exemption, Rabbi Cashman wrote. Ninety-nine percent of the staff are fully vaccinated, while the one employee who is not fully vaccinated is tested three times a week, he said.

Ohr HaEmet did not respond to requests for comment.

International travel was not the source of the outbreaks in the three schools. Rather, infections are being brought into the school from the community, according to an email from Patrick Casey, director of corporate communications for York Region.

Cohorts with exposures within their classroom or school bus have been dismissed, but the schools remain open.

The three affected schools were offered increased testing. “Some chose to participate in the additional testing and others did not,” Casey wrote.

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