Today the Northern Health Units and Directors of Education issued a joint statement to ensure COVID-safe schools for our children this fall:
On March 13, 2020, schools across Ontario closed their doors without us knowing when they would reopen. Almost six months later, school doors are beginning to re-open to welcome students back for the 2020-2021 school year. These last 25 weeks have been marked with uncertainty, personal and economic sacrifice… and ultimately, with success in flattening the curve of the first wave of COVID-19 in our area.
With schools reopening, many are experiencing mixed emotions. Families, educators and support staff, and students young and old, may all feel a combination of relief, fear, pride, worry, and excitement. We all share in this experience, and all our varied emotions are valid. We also all share a common aim—our unwavering commitment to protect our students and our entire school community from COVID-19.
As Directors of Education and Medical Officers of Health from across Northern Ontario, we want to share our united commitment and determination to create COVID-safe schools for all. Our respective teams are working tirelessly—public health and education together—to put into action the provincial direction on COVID-19 prevention and management in schools. Although the basic rules are the same for all, parents, guardians, and students will hear tailored messaging from their own schools and school boards and their own local public health units. Everyone will be able to ask questions specific to their own situations.
We are in this together, and we all need to know and follow the basic rules for safe schools. We are learning and adapting together as our journey now takes us to the first ever modern-day school reopening in the midst of a global pandemic.