Acting Medical Officer of Health “very supportive” of return to school

Middlesex-London Heath Unit Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers addresses a virtual media briefing on July 19th, 2021

Dr. Alex Summers understand that parents have concerns, but says he “fully supports” students returning to the classroom next week.

The acting medical officer of health made the comments on the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s media briefing on Thursday afternoon.

“I do recognize the concern that some parents may have about sending their kids to school. There may be some parents for whom sending their kids back to school on Monday is not the best call. For some though, it is,” Summer said. “This is a complex discussion of risks and benefits both for our society and community, as well as parents.”

Summers noted that children, even if not in school, can still “get COVID-19 in the community.”

The Ontario Science Table and various children’s medical institutions have said they support the return to in-classroom learning, which Summers agreed with.

“The COVID-19 Science Table certainly highlights the risks of children not returning to school. The significant COVID-19 spread in the community is certainly there, we can not ignore it. But the risk of COVID-19 exposure also remains for students outside of school in other activities that they do,” Summers said. “School is essential, and we need to do other things around it to make it as secure as possible.”

Meantime, Summers repeated his support for vaccination for students aged 5-11.

“The vaccine is safe. It is effective. It is absolutely critical that our 5-11-year-olds get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said on the same day the Health Unit announced that the one millionth dose of the vaccine had been given locally.

In Middlesex-London, there were 323 new COVID-19 cases recorded on Thursday. However, that number is believed to be significantly lower than the actual count due to limits on testing  eligibility. The number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 hit 135, the highest total of the pandemic.