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Ontario announces ventilation units for all classrooms without mechanical systems

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TORONTO — Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says every classroom in schools without mechanical ventilation systems will have a standalone HEPA unit upon students' return this fall.

He says about 70 per cent of schools in the province have mechanical ventilation and nearly all of them are using higher-grade filters and changing them more frequently.

In the schools without mechanical ventilation, Lecce says 50,000 standalone HEPA units are already in use, and $25 million in funding announced today will buy 20,000 more - enough for every classroom.

Lecce says it will also be enough for all other learning spaces, such as gyms, libraries, portables, and child care rooms within schools.

He says every junior and senior kindergarten classroom will have a HEPA unit, regardless of the school's ventilation system, since those kids will not be required to wear masks.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore also announced that he approved a change to the back-to-school plan announced Tuesday, permitting high-contact sports to be played indoors.

The province is reporting 139 new COVID-19 cases today, and 11 deaths.

The Ministry of Health says that seven of those deaths happened between December and February, and are being added due to a data clean-up.

The new cases are based on more than 17,100 tests completed in the past day.

There were 26 new cases in Toronto, 19 in the Region of Waterloo, 18 in Peel Region, 15 in York Region and 12 in Hamilton.

There are 108 people in intensive care due to COVID-related critical illness and 76 patients are on ventilators.

More than 60,094 doses of vaccines were administered over the previous day, for a total of more than 19.6 million.

Provincial data show 99.5 per cent of all COVID-19 ICU admissions from mid-June to mid-July were in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people, and nearly 96 per cent of related deaths were in the same group.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2021.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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