With little time left to the school year, Simcoe-Muskoka’s chief medical officer agrees kids should go back to class ASAP

"that limited amount of time would be very, very beneficial for their physical and mental well-being"

The local medical officer of health is agreeing with his provincial counterpart: schools should reopen before the end of the year.

This week, Ontario medical officer of health Dr. David Williams stated that students could return to the classroom before the end of the school year. On Wednesday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Dr. Charles Gardner put his support behind this statement. “We believe that our rates are down sufficiently that we can follow up with cases and their contacts, and would be able to do so for any exposures in schools, to be able to enable the action required in response to an exposure in a school,” said Gardner during his weekly media briefing.

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Gardner noted rates of transmission within schools have always been limited. “Many more exposures happening in schools versus transmissions in schools and the exposures are from cases that have occurred out of schools elsewhere in the community or in the home.”

While there has been no timeline set for a return to the classroom, Gardner points out many steps have already been taken to ensure student and staff safety. “The control measures that are in place for schools are effective, we would certainly require that they continue but we feel ready and we feel that it’s important to be children be able to return to school,” he said, pointing out there isn’t much time left in the year. “But that limited amount of time would be very, very beneficial for their physical and mental well-being and for their education and for supporting families with regards to being able to attend and participate in essential work at this time.”

Schools across Ontario closed in early April amid a surge in COVID-19 cases that lead to an inability to perform thorough contact tracing. Last week, the province indicated it would not reopen schools when the Stay-at-Home order was to expire on June 2, with students continuing to learn from home indefinitely.