Hamilton school board responds to Jan. 17 in-person resumption

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Published January 10, 2022 at 10:29 pm

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At least one local school board in Hamilton expressed surprise about news that in-person school will resume next Monday.

Multiple reports out of from Toronto-based media, that emerged on Monday night while most parents of school-aged children would have been navigating bedtime, said the Ford government is committed to in-person learning resuming on Jan. 17. The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board quickly issued a statement saying that it was monitoring the situation closely, while stressing there had been no official announcement.

“HWDSB is monitoring this latest development and confirmation of the school reopening date very closely,” the board wrote on Twitter. Families can expect a communication in a timely manner once the @ONGov (Ontario government) releases an official announcement about when students can return to school. Thank you for your patience.”

Hamilton has a positivity rate of 31.2 per cent, and almost 9,100 active COVID-19 cases. On Monday, the city’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said Hamilton was averaging 10 new hospital patients with COVID-19 each day. There are also an average of two new admissions to intensive-care units (ICUs) each day.

Lots of self-isolating in store?

The two main hospital networks have over 780 employees who are self-isolating, putting an immense strain on staffing.

The hospitals’ experience with reduced, strained staffing levels could offer a portent of the potential effect on teachers and children if the return to class goes ahead.

Any congregant setting can facilitate spread.

School-associated outbreaks reached record highs in Ontario by early December, early in the Omicron surge. By Dec. 25, there were 368 ongoing outbreaks linked to schools or child-care centres, which was 20.9 per cent of the total for that setting for the second half of 2021.

Hamilton’s vaccination uptake among children aged five to 11 is also below the provincial average. It is at 41.2 per cent, while the provincial rate is about 47 per cent.

Children would also be eating lunch indoors. Ontario restaurants are currently closed for indoor dining in order to reduce spread of COVID-19.

Walk-in access to vaccines was just opened to that group on Monday.

A dedicated vaccine clinic for education workers has also been added in the lower city at the Centre on Barton shopping plaza (1241 Barton St. E., near the Gamestop). The latter addition was announced late last week over Twitter by Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Generally, it takes about two weeks for a dose to do its work and reach peak effectiveness.

Based on that, the increased protection from further opening vaccine availability to teachers and elementary school-aged children would not kick in until around Jan. 24. Needless to say, Jan. 17 falls inside that window.

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