CK MOH respects school closure extension

Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / tomwang.

The medical officer of health in Chatham-Kent says extending school closures in the area is not needed but will respect the province’s decision to delay in-class learning because of a rise in the spread of COVID-19 across Ontario.

Elementary schools in Chatham-Kent were to return to in-class learning on Monday but that won’t be the case. All students are now expected to go back to school on January 25. Dr. David Colby told a media teleconference on Thursday that there’s no problem with school transmissions locally and there is not a large number of COVID-19 cases in Chatham-Kent.

“We have a different situation in Chatham-Kent,” said Colby. “I don’t think we need to unilaterally close schools. Students in school are not driving the COVID-19 epidemic, which is not what we thought at the very beginning.”

Premier Doug Ford told reporters at a news conference on Thursday that the positivity rate among children 12-13 is up to around 20 per cent so far this month because of gatherings during the Christmas holidays. It was 5.4 per cent in November. Dr. Colby said there’s wisdom in delaying students’ return to school until the COVID-19 case numbers start to dip.

The Director of Education at the St. Clair Catholic District School Board Deb Crawford said virtual learning has gone well at her schools.

“According to the teachers’ responses, students, and parents, things are going quite well,” said Crawford.

The Director of Education at the Lambton-Kent District School Board John Howitt said remote learning is going well there too.

“Similarly we’re having great outcomes with the remote learning currently,” Howitt said.

CK Public Health reported an increase of 14 new active cases on Thursday to bring the total number of active cases to 142. The health unit said there were 26 new cases added to the overall accumulative total, but 12 more cases were also considered resolved. There is also one new workplace outbreak reported for a total of 11 outbreaks in Chatham-Kent.

Seven are unidentified workplace outbreaks, three are institutional at Village on the Thames retirement home, Copper Terrace long term care home and Riverview Gardens long term care facility, and one is in congregate living at Community Living Chatham-Kent.

Colby hopes the lockdown helps reduce the number of cases.