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Private school to close Monday after Toronto issues new Section 22 order

Last Updated May 7, 2021 at 4:12 pm EDT

At least one of the several private schools in the Bathurst and Lawrence area that has remained open despite emergency orders to close, will now be shutting down, CityNews has learned.

The moves comes one day after Toronto Public Health beefed up the original shutdown regulations involving schools and students.

Concerned residents had reached out to CityNews, describing hundreds of students and staff going in and around the private schools, crowds of kids walking with backpacks and cars lined up for pickups.

At one school, CityNews crews observed a steady stream of students loading onto a yellow school bus. CityNews has chosen not to identify the schools in question.

The City of Toronto shut down all schools to in-person learning early last month, due to an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases.

However, the private schools in question claimed they were closed for in-person learning but were operating as places of worship, holding religious services for children between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m..

They said they were holding numerous services at a time with a limit of 10 people per room.


RELATED: Public Health investigating after North York private schools remain open for religious services


The provincial regulation states that “no person shall attend… a gathering, whether indoors or outdoors, for the purposes of a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony of more than 10 people,” but does not specify whether it’s 10 people per facility or room.

 

CityNews took area residents’ concerns to Toronto Public Health weeks ago. We were told the city was investigating the situation and seeking legal advice.

“I think, in my experience, different people have different interpretation of existing regulation. I think that’s what keep our lawyers so busy,” Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said at the time.

Late Thursday, the agency announced it was enhancing existing regulations. The new section 22 order limits “in-person attendance of school-aged children across all educational settings, not just schools within the meaning of the Education Act” and limits “in-person student attendance as much as possible, regardless of whether they qualify as ‘in-person teaching or instruction’.”

CityNews reached out to the private schools Friday and received one confirmation they will shut down as of Monday, as per the new Order.

“We are disappointed by the imposition of a City Order that will curtail the ability of our school-aged children from attending religious services and practices,” school officials told us in a statement. “We will abide by provisions that require school facilities to close for school-aged children, as we have done in the past with previous restrictions and guidelines. We are currently reviewing our legal options.”

The school says it will continue operating a daycare and special needs classes which are permitted under the regulations.