‘We’re not in a lockdown when schools are open,’ Toronto-area doctors warn


Students in elementary and high schools across Ontario are engaged in virtual learning from home this week, but two Toronto-area doctors say schools in the GTA should not reopen for in-person learning so soon.

“Schools in the GTA should not open on Jan. 11,” said emergency physician Dr. Lisa Salamon, who works in an east-end Toronto hospital.

“We do not have distinct borders, our case numbers have risen exponentially, our hospitals are full, our hospital beds are full, our ICUs are full, we’re cancelling surgeries, we’re calling all sorts of elective procedures.”

A mother of three, Salamon acknowledged that virtual learning is especially hard on working parents, but she pointed out that “we’re not in a lockdown when schools are open.”

Her opinion is echoed by another emergency physician who works in the city’s northwest, at Humber River Hospital, which currently has more than 60 COVID-19 patients.

“I don’t feel it’s right for kids to be going to school right now,” said Dr. Stan Salkauskis.

“The best way and the only way of really stopping this epidemic is to stop person-to-person transmission and when kids go to school, they’re not going to stay far apart and they’re going to spread it.”

In England, a national lockdown has shut down schools until at least February.

According to reports in Quebec, the province is considering taking similar measures and closing schools for several weeks.

Salamon and Salkauskis say the same steps should be taken in Ontario.