COVID Update #31

Over the last two weeks, there have been increasing reports of COVID infections in schools and
the community. Furthermore, there is growing recognition worldwide that this infection is
airborne. Despite the recent lifting of COVID-19 mandates in most public settings and schools in
Ontario, and a resulting presumption that the pandemic is over, OSSTF/FEESO continues to
maintain regular meetings with epidemiologist Dr. Amy Greer and consultations with legal
counsel to best inform and protect our members. Unfortunately, the current public health metrics
demonstrate that, contrary to what many members of the public are being led to believe, the
pandemic is most definitely not over and there is still much to do to ensure that members and
students are protected despite the lifting of mandates.
The rapid spread of the BA.2 omicron variant coupled with the removal of most protective
measures has resulted in pandemic Wave Six in Ontario. While it is apparent that the provincial
government prefers to ignore the evidence of this sixth wave, the fact is that as the number of
infections grow, hospitalizations for COVID-19 will also increase (23% higher than last
week). Best estimates from wastewater testing suggest that Ontario is currently seeing between
30,000 and 35,000 NEW infections each day. The BA.2 wave we are currently experiencing will
very likely place significant stress on our healthcare settings and healthcare resources more
What is OSSTF/FEESO doing?
Provincial Office is committed to continuing our regular meetings with Dr. Greer and legal
counsel to make sure members and local leaders have accurate and current information
regarding the ongoing pandemic. An informed membership is key to ensuring the protection of
every member. OSSTF/FEESO continues to exert pressure on the Ministers of Health and
Education through regular demands advocating for the protection of our members even though
the government has declared the pandemic to be over. This advocacy is done through letters
from the President directly to the Ministers, media appearances and participation at various
Ministry tables. Templates of letters also advocating for preventative health and safety measure
to protect our members and school community are regularly sent to district presidents
encouraging them to continue these conversations with their local Boards and public health
What you can do:
 Make sure you are fully vaccinated. The good news is that vaccines still provide an
important layer of protection against the most severe outcomes but there are many
vulnerable people in our communities who are not able to rely on vaccine protection
(children under the age of 5, immunocompromised individuals, and vulnerable older
adults). Infections in these individuals (even if they have been vaccinated) can be lifethreatening. Many people have higher risk people in their households and families that
they need to help to protect. If you are eligible for a third dose of vaccine (everyone over
the age of 12), and have not yet received it, get your third dose. A third dose helps to
reduce your risk of infection as well as serious disease should you become infected.
 Wear a mask in all indoor spaces (to protect against inhalation of virus particles that
float in the air like cigarette smoke).
 Stay home if you have any symptoms or are feeling unwell. Respect the quarantine
days following infection.
 If you test positive for COVID-19, take a picture of each positive test with proof of date
to support filing a WSIB claim if warranted.
COVID-19 is an air-borne virus
The Ontario Science table released information in December of 2021 just before the holiday
season in their document, Ask Ontario’s Science Table: Omicron Edition: “SARS-CoV-2 (the
virus that causes COVID-19) is airborne which means it can float around indoors and linger
unless the air in the room moves out of the room as quickly as possible.” https://covid19-
The White House also recently published a blog post titled “Let’s Clear the Air on COVID,”
describing the virus as primarily transmitted through aerosols—small, tiny airborne particles.
“Though some experts around the world have been arguing that point for years, and
subsequently advocating for respirator use and enhanced ventilation systems, this is the first
time the White House has formally acknowledged that aerosol transmission has been the
primary driver of the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, it has turned away from the language
used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
(taken from CIDRAP article: “White House diverges from CDC, focuses on aerosol COVID
spread” https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2022/03/white-house-diverges-cdcfocuses-aerosol-covid-spread)
Short videos about airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from University of Oxford.