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Ottawa, Aug 27 (Canadian-Media): Details about the safe return of Ontario students to school in September were provided Aug 26 by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Dirk Huyer, who was recently the Executive Lead for the COVID-19 Testing Approach at the Command Table and is the Chief Coroner for Ontario.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter handle
"We have been working hand in hand with the medical experts to develop a plan that will allow schools to quickly and effectively find, isolate and contain a COVID-19 case or outbreak," said Premier Ford in a news release. "With medical experts helping to develop and support our plan, parents, teachers and educators can be confident every measure has been taken to put the health and safety of students and staff first."
In consultation with public health experts, including Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document was released by Ontario Government which facilitates identification and isolation COVID-19 cases, reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and prevent and minimize outbreaks.
In addition, Dr. Dirk Huyer, who, will serve as Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response will lead the province's efforts to prevent and minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in a number of sectors, including the education, child care, agriculture and health care sectors.
The guidance document includes detailed instructions for a variety of different scenarios including outlines recommendations for what parents should do to support their children.
"Ontario's COVID-19 management plan for schools was developed by medical leaders, with one aim: to maximize safety and minimize the risk to your children," said Minister Lecce in the news release. "We have the resources in place ― from nursing to testing and enhanced screening and cleaning ― to help prevent the spread, coupled with a comprehensive plan to respond to any challenge immediately and decisively, under the leadership of Dr. Huyer."
Lecce has issued a letter to parents to outline the shared responsibility to keep students safe and the key elements of the outbreak management protocol.
Key elements of the guidance document explains the role of school boards and schools, local public health units; critical role of parents, appropriate steps to take when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19; Protocols to trigger various levels of public health responses or infection control measures
An additional public health guidance, COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management is also being issued by The Chief Medical Officer of Health to facilitate medical officers of health and public health units to support their efforts in investigating cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks in school settings.
"As schools welcome students and teachers back in the coming weeks, it's important for everyone to be informed and understand their role in keeping each other safe," said Dr. David Williams. "This guidance document provides a thorough management plan for school boards, schools, parents and community partners like public health units to respond to COVID-19."