Walpole Island reopens schools and programs

Walpole Island Governance Building. (Photo courtesy of Walpole Island First Nation Council via Facebook).

Walpole Island First Nation has announced that programs and schools will start to reopen Thursday, as the number of active COVID-19 cases in the community start to come down.

On September 27, the island returned to the colour-coded system after Chief Charles Sampson said wide-spread community transmission of COVID-19 and low compliance with isolation and public health precautions were observed. As a result, schools and programs were closed to curb the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, Walpole Island council said while some restrictions are being loosened, the Emergency Operations Control Group continues to monitor the situation closely.

Currently, just two community health nurses are responsible for testing an average of 30 people per day, reviewing the results, communicating the results, contact tracing and arranging isolating and testing for individuals determined as close contacts.

“This takes a lot of time,” read a statement from the Walpole Island Health Centre. “Our nurses are handling hundreds of calls a week and put in time after hours and on the weekend. They follow the constantly changing information based on both the federal and provincial regulations.”

The health centre said the facility started to reach capacity when outbreaks were reported in the daycare and school, and the centre had to ask for assistance from FNHIB and Lambton Public Health.

“If we all do our part and follow the recommendations, we can control the impact of the other factors,” the centre said.

On Wednesday, Walpole Island reported 14 active cases of COVID-19. There have been 216 cases reported within the community since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and four people have died.

WIFN continues to urge residents to get vaccinated, and those who cannot are asked to follow all public safety protocols. Those having difficulties accessing vaccine receipts online, or who need a vaccine appointment, are asked to call the health centre at 519-627-0765.

-With files from Natalia Vega