Area schools following advice from health officials for coronavirus

The coronavirus is named after its shape which resembles the corona of a star. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

With two confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ontario, local school boards say they’re prepared for any scenario.

John Howitt, the director of education at the Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB), said there is always a procedure in place for the school board regarding infectious viruses. Howitt added that the school board takes its direction directly from health officials when necessary.

“The Lambton Kent District School Board has a pandemic influenza protocol in place. We are reviewing it,” explained Howitt. “It’s always in place in case there is something that we need to do when we get direction from the health unit, whether that be the federal medical officer of health, provincial chief medical of health, or the medical officer of health locally.”

According to Howitt, the school board has received a few questions about the protocols in place when it comes to the coronavirus.

“I haven’t had any direct concern,” he said. “I know principals have fielded some questions. We did post, on schools and our board website, a letter from the provincial chief medical officer to help alleviate some of the concerns that parents may have.”

The letter from Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams assured members of school communities that their safety is a top priority.

“The health and well-being of Ontarians, including and especially our students and school staff, is Ontario’s top priority,” Williams said. “Students, parents and school communities should rest assured that the province is working together in close cooperation with its partners in both the education and health care sectors to ensure the continued safety and well-being of students and staff.”

Williams added that measures have been put in place should more coronavirus cases be confirmed.

“Christine Elliott, deputy premier and Minister of Health, recently expanded monitoring protocols by making this novel coronavirus reportable to public health by a health professional so that if potential cases are identified in your area, the relevant local public health unit can quickly and effectively take all necessary measures to investigate, complete lab tests, and do case and contact management to prevent and control further spread of the infection.”

In an emailed statement, St. Clair Catholic District School Board spokesperson Todd Lozon said they are taking similar steps similar to the LKDSB.

“We are following the advice of our public health partners,” said Lozon. “Information from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which was sent to all school boards [Monday], is posted to our board website and school web pages.”

As more information comes out about the coronavirus, Howitt encouraged students and parents to make sure they are getting their facts from reliable sources to avoid any misinformation. The Ontario government has also launched a webpage dedicated to providing up-to-date information about the virus.

“Anytime there’s information like this, I think the best advice we can give is to go to a credible source for the information,” he said. “In that letter that we have posted on our website, there are several links at the end that the Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided to make sure that the most current and best advice is posted.”