Schools in the North Bay Parry Sound District will remain open for in-person learning during the Stay-at-Home order.

Shannon Mantha, the region’s Executive Director of Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer, said the health unit continues to support in-person learning for students in the district during the provincial shutdown.

“Earlier this week both Peel and Toronto Public Health issued orders […] to close their schools for in-person learning and move to strictly virtual learning,” Mantha said. 

She noted that both these health unit districts have seen significant increases in case counts as well as the rapid spread of variants within the community. 

Mantha said our region’s health unit knows how important it is for students to continue in-person learning and locally we are not seeing transmission of COVID-19 within our schools.

In addition, she said many students in the district being in the North face barriers to remote learning and in some cases barriers that go beyond just access to the internet and Technology. 

“We know that being at school with peers and Educators has a positive impact on our children and youth’s social, emotional and physical well-being; so considering all of these factors the health unit is very supportive of continuing in-person learning for students in the district during the provincial shutdown,” Mantha said. 

However, she stressed that should the district see the transmission of COVID-19 within schools, work will be done with the local school boards to take the necessary steps to protect the health of the school community.

Andrea McLellan, the region’s Director of COVID-19 Immunization Strategy, also commented on efforts to vaccinate the district’s educators. 

McLellan said, “Teachers fall under the essential workers category of Phase two, so we will be planning for that roll out in the near future.”

She says the health unit will be working with local school boards to determine eligible individuals and a process for them to book their appointments.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jim Chirico highlighted that currently booked individuals will not be displaced to account for educators.

Chirico says, “We certainly will be vaccinating (Special Needs Educators) once we have vaccine available and clinic spots are accessible to them,”