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A student is greeted at the Philippe-Labarre Elementary School in Montreal, on Thursday, August 27, 2020. Thousands of Quebec students return to class in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Ontario’s education minister is aiming to reassure parents that his province’s school reopening plan is different than Quebec’s, where 47 schools have at least one case of COVID-19 since opening.

Stephen Lecce reacted today to a report from the Quebec government that showed dozens of schools — including preschool, elementary, secondary and adult career centres — reported one or more infections between Aug. 26 and Sept. 3.

Lecce says Ontario has mandated masking in classrooms while Quebec has not, and more than 600 public health nurses will be stationed in Ontario schools this fall.

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Speaking at an event in Toronto, Lecce urged parents to actively screen their children for virus symptoms before sending them to school.

The Ontario government has been under increasing pressure to reduce class sizes at the elementary level to enhance physical distancing.

Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly said the province’s plan has been put together with the help of medical experts.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 169 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, with Peel Region, Toronto and Ottawa each reporting dozens of new diagnoses.

There were also 106 cases newly marked as resolved in the provincewide report.

The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 43,003, which includes 2,811 deaths and 38,847 cases marked as resolved.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said Peel Region is reporting 46 new cases, Toronto has 42 and Ottawa has 30 new cases.

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She said 28 of the province’s 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer new cases.

The province was able to complete 28,672 tests over the previous day.

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