Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company’s lab, in Surrey, B.C., on March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company’s lab, in Surrey, B.C., on March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Toronto school staff member dies of COVID-19

Ontario government says students won’t have a longer winter break

TORONTO — An education worker at a Toronto school has died from COVID-19.

The child and youth worker was employed with the Toronto Catholic District School Board at the St. Francis De Sales School, officials said.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce offered his condolences Wednesday to the school community.

“Sending strength and prayers to TCDSB,” Lecce said in a tweet. “We must do everything we can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in our communities.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents education workers across Ontario, said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the worker’s death.

Brendan Browne, the school board’s director of education, issued his “heartfelt condolences” to the staff member’s family and the school community.

Toronto Public Health declined to provide details on where the education worker may have contracted the virus.

“While we appreciate the desire for more information, we must balance the public health reason to release the information requested and this individual and their family’s right to the protection of personal health information and right to privacy,” said Dr. Vinita Dubey, the city’s associate medical officer of health.

St. Francis De Sales School is near the intersection of Jane Street and Finch Avenue in Toronto’s north-west corner, which has some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the city.

City data indicates that the area of Black Creek — north of Jane Street and a block away from the school — has 846 cases per 100,000 people. Glenfield-Jane Heights, where the school is located, has 512 cases per 100,000 people.

The school board website’s list of active cases said that as of Tuesday, a student at the elementary school also has COVID-19.

News of the education worker’s death came as the Ontario government announced that students won’t have a longer winter break due to the pandemic. Lecce said provincial COVID-19 protocols for schools are enough to keep kids safe.

That decision was announced one day after the government said it was considering a prolonged break or starting the new year with a stretch of online learning,

Ontario reported 109 new COVID-19 cases related to schools on Wednesday, including at least 92 among students.

Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 670 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.

— With files from Shawn Jeffords.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

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