The local school board’s director of education says he’s looking forward to a time when COVID updates are unnecessary at school board meetings.
Wes Hahn told the latest meeting, on Sept. 28, that there were currently almost 40 cases of COVID in the communities that send their children to Trillium Lakelands District School Board schools, including one new community case with five high risk contacts as of Oct. 5 in Haliburton.
“There have been no real spikes or real rises since school began and that is good,” Hahn said. He added there are currently no active cases within the TLDSB but there have been five since schools opened.
Hahn said the board continues to strongly encourage students over the age of 12 and members of their extended families to get vaccinated. As of the Sept. 28 board meeting, he said 30-35 per cent of that student cohort is still unvaccinated.
“If we have a case in the high schools,” Hahn said, “students who are double vaccinated can return to school immediately. Unvaccinated students cannot return unless you are cleared by public health, typically after 10 days of isolation. That is a lot of school missed.
“It is paramount for the protection of students that we have as many vaccinated as can be,” Hahn said. “Vaccinations allow extra-curriculars to operate. Vaccinations allow more interactions between students to occur safely and vaccinations allow students to stay in school.”
Haliburton area trustee Gary Brohman wanted to know when lockers are going to become available for students.
“They aren’t,” Hahn said. “We are concerned about unvaccinated kids congregating at lockers where a lot of contact will occur. This is to be avoided. So, for now we are saying no to lockers.”
Hahn added that 86 per cent of board staff were fully vaccinated, with 14 per cent medically exempt or performing the vaccine education program which includes testing twice a week for COVID.
Trustee Colleen Wilcox asked for an update of the health unit vaccination drives that had used board sites to host their events in September. Wilcox was told that four mass vaccination clinics had been held with “only 20-50” getting vaccinated at each school.
The Ministry of Health said that between Sept. 13 and Oct. 5, 12 to 17-year-olds were responsible for 13.11 per cent of all cases in Ontario. In the HKPR district health unit, that age group had 31.26 per cent still not vaccinated as of Oct. 5