Toronto lifts order barring schools from hosting religious services

Orthodox schools in heavily Jewish area of Toronto welcome move made after rates of COVID begin to fall.

Dan Verbin ,

Toronto
Toronto
iStock

Orthodox schools in Toronto, Ontario can reopen for prayer services and religious learning now that a COVID-19 public health order barring schools from hosting religious services has been lifted.

The ordinance was enacted on May 6 to close a loophole in existing rules that allowed private and independent schools to still hold religious services, for as long as from morning until mid-afternoon, reported the Canadian Jewish News.

Schools have been closed in Ontario as part of COVID measures, with in-person learning moved online.

The beefed up regulatory change was put in place after talk of children still attending private schools in the heavily Jewish area of Toronto along Bathurst Street.

Three Jewish day schools had continued to operate classes using the loophole of offering religious services. After the schools were reported to the city for violating COIVD ordinances, one of the schools had its funding and partnership ties with UJA Federation of Greater Toronto severed.

The May 6 order was rescinded on June 5, with COVID rates in the city of Toronto decreasing over the previous weeks.

The end of the May 6 regulation was welcomed by Orthodox schools in the area, including the Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah, which the Jewish News reported had launched a court challenged against the province of Ontario and Toronto’s Medical Office of Health for barring it from conducting religious services for students.

It argued that the regulation violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, stating that its students were being treated differently than the members of other groups who were legally allowed to conduct religious services.

It had asked the court for a judicial order giving it the ability to host religious services for up to 10 people in its building.

A second court case was launched last month by nearby Bnos Bais Yaakov girls high school alleging the ban on it conducting religious services violated the freedom of religion clause of the Charter.



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