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Four Cambridge schools report absentee rates over 20 per cent as province begins sharing data

Only 15 Waterloo region schools in first update in province's school closures and absenteeism portal
Galt Collegiate Institute
Galt Collegiate Institute and Vocational School.

The province began posting data about school absences today as a way for parents to assess the risks of potential in-class exposure to COVID-19.

Canadian Press looked at the raw data provided by the province to learn that more than 300 Ontario schools reported absence rates higher than 30 per cent last Friday.

The online portal comes a week after in-person learning resumed at schools across Ontario and the province backed away from requiring public health to post outbreak and contact tracing data so it could focus those efforts on high-risk environments. 

Schools are considered low risk for the spread of COVID due to several health and safety measures, including improved ventilation, better mask requirements, access to rapid antigen tests and in-school vaccination clinics.

Data posted on the website includes all student and staff absences, including those not necessarily related to COVID, and is reflective of the status at each school at 2 p.m the previous business day.

The provincial portal says it will be updated each business day at 10:30 a.m.

As of this morning, 16 of over 4,844 schools across the province have had to be closed because of absences.

The province says school boards will notify parents when absences among all staff and students within a school reach 30 per cent regardless of whether those absences are due to COVID. Average absentee rates vary throughout the year.

Canadian Press reports that one school in the Niagara Catholic District School Board had an absence rate of 100 per cent and 21 schools had absence rates higher than 80 per cent.

Schools with the 10 highest absence rates included one in Toronto, three in North Bay, two in Parry Sound and one each in Kenora, Sturgeon Falls and South River.  

Monday’s update included data for 3,451 of the province's 4,844 schools.

Only four schools from Cambridge were included in Monday’s update, which included only 15 schools from Waterloo region.

The Cambridge schools include Monsignor Doyle, reporting a 27.1 per cent absentee rate, St. Benedict with 22 per cent absent, Galt Collegiate with 22.5 per cent absent and Southwood Secondary School, with 26.5 per cent absent.