Local medical officers of health have released a joint statement in support of area school boards that are getting set to welcome students back to the classroom next month.
In their statement released Thursday, Hastings Prince Edward Acting MOH Dr. Alexa Caturay and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington MOH Dr. Kieran Moore say they “understand that many families may be feeling some uncertainty about sending children back to school” and those concerns are being recognized.
They say they are continuing to work with school boards to support a safe return to school and that the area’s low positive case count and continued prevention efforts in the community, will contribute to a successful reopening of schools.
Both health units plan to release more information on supporting a safe return to school in the coming days, but say the biggest thing people can do is to remain vigilant in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
You can read the full letter below:
As September approaches, we understand that many local families may be feeling some uncertainty about sending their children back to school. We recognize your concerns and want to reassure you that the health and safety of students and staff is our priority. We are working together with school boards to support a safe return to school for everyone.
Every day we are confronted with changing information about COVID-19, which can create confusion and uncertainty. It is important to recognize that there is a notable difference between what is happening around the globe and the situation in our region. In our region, we have been fortunate to have maintained consistently low infection rates throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting the school year with very few positive cases, as well as continuous efforts from the community to practise preventative measures will contribute to a successful reopening of local schools. Education is fundamental to good health and we want to ensure that students are not left behind. The decision to send kids back to face-to-face learning is going to be unique to every family. Make the best one for your family for right now, knowing that we completely support the local school boards in the reopening of our local schools as students and staff return to the classroom in September.
The community can be reassured that there are existing processes in place to prevent and respond to any cases or outbreaks of infectious disease in the school environment. With access to some of the best resources in our communities such as surveillance and monitoring, responsive assessment centres, testing, laboratories, and contact tracing practices, we are well equipped to identify and respond to any positive cases quickly and efficiently. Even more importantly, the continued efforts of individuals and families to continue to adhere to public health measures will help keep the number of positive cases low in our area.
Additional information about specific processes that will support a safe return to school will become available in the coming days, including dedicated public health web pages about COVID-19 prevention in schools.
This is a critical time. Now, more than ever, we must continue to remain vigilant. The same proven practices that have kept our community safe will now be implemented in our local schools. We all have a role to play to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and the ongoing efforts of community members, health professionals, educators, families, and students will all contribute to a safe return to school this fall.
Together, we can keep our students and our community safe.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health
KFL&A Public Health
Dr. Alexa Caturay, Acting Medical Officer of Health