The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 11 new COVID-19 cases today. Yesterday there were five cases, and over the weekend there were eight cases. There has been a total of 16,907 cases and 435 deaths related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Of the 24 new cases announced since Saturday, five are from close contact with another confirmed case, three are considered community spread, one is travel related, and 15 are under investigation. There are now 40 active cases in our community, with 11 of those being considered variants of concern. There is one confirmed case in the hospital, and 16,432 cases have been listed as resolved. There have been 542,674 doses of the vaccine administered locally, with 76.1 per cent of individuals over the age of 12 having received one dose, and 66.9 per cent of individuals over the age of 12 having received both doses. Across the province today there were 164 cases of COVID-19 reported. Yesterday there were 168 cases, and on Sunday there were 218 cases.
RETURN TO IN-CLASS LEARNING
The provincial government released their vague back-to-school strategy today, which sees kids returning to the classroom full-time in cohorts. The key takeaways include:
- Staff and teachers will not be required to take COVID-19 vaccines
- Students from Grade 1 to 12 are required to wear masks indoors (with exceptions such as low-contact physical activity and during eating)
- Staff and students must screen themselves everyday using the tool provided by the province, although in some cases schools may be directed to do enhanced screening
- Anyone experiencing symptoms per the provincial screening tool should not attend school and potentially get tested or seek medical attention
- School boards are expected to have all ventilation systems inspected and in good condition before the start of the school year
- School boards without mechanical ventilation (those that rely on windows to bring in fresh air) are expected to place standalone high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in all classrooms.
You can read the full plan here.
The government’s refusal to make investments into student and staff safety in schools this September is rolling the dice with kids’ wellbeing – risking outbreaks and at-home learning days, and risking kids’ academic and emotional recovery. The province should be doing everything possible to protect students and staff, and prevent in-school learning from being disrupted by outbreaks or exposures. Instead, the government is cutting $800 million in the budget from education, leaving classrooms packed, and not taking any new action to get kids vaccinated or help them recover, academically or emotionally. We need to see investment in things like small class sizes, paid sick days, and mental health and learning supports for struggling kids. If we lower the risk of outbreaks and exposures, we prevent kids from having to be sent home again.
The Greater Essex County District School Board’s opt-out form for students who wish to continue remote learning in September is now available and can be submitted until August 6. You can learn more and find the form here.
VACCINES AND TESTING
The mass vaccination site at the WFCU Centre and the privately run clinic at the Moy Medical Centre closed over the weekend. Vaccines are still available at the Devonshire Mall clinic through appointments or walk-ins, located in the former Sears store, as well as the Libro Credit Union Centre in Amherstburg, and Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre in Leamington. There are several other clinics and pharmacies throughout the county also continuing to offer vaccines. More information about where to get vaccinated can be found at www.wevax.ca.
Our caucus has called on the provincial government to deploy rapid testing for health and education workers who are not yet vaccinated. Until Ontario is fully protected, the provincial government should invest in deploying rapid tests to hospitals, schools, and clinics, and mandating that unvaccinated frontline staff take regular tests before going to work. We also need to implement a Last Mile Strategy to reach everyone who has yet to get a vaccine, talk to them about getting a shot, and to help them access one.
The Town of Tecumseh will be reopening Town Hall and the Tecumseh Recreation Complex and Arena for limited in-person services starting today. Anyone attending Town Hall or the Arena must complete a screening form prior to being allowed entry, and masks are required for all visitors in the building. Both Town Hall and the Arena will be open between 1:00pm and 4:30pm Monday to Friday, with a maximum of ten people permitted inside the customer service area of Town Hall at a time. You can read more here.
Please continue to stay safe by washing your hands, wearing a mask when you’re out in public, and practice physical distancing of 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.