Health unit extends delay of extracurricular school activities

AM800-News-Herman-Nov-2016-2

Students in Windsor-Essex are going to have to wait to resume extracurricular activities.

Before the new school year began, the local health unit issued a recommendation that all extracurriculars be delayed until at least October to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai says that directive has now been extended indefinitely while the health unit waits for positive case numbers to fall.

He says it's hard to say when the recommendation might be lifted.

"We constantly evaluate the data," he says.  "It's very difficult to predict the future. So, I think for now, based on our current experience, we keep the recommendation that extracurricular activities are paused."

Dr. Nesathurai says keeping kids in the classroom is priority one.

"The number one goal in my mind, I think from a public health perspective, is to try to keep schools open for instruction," says Dr. Nesathurai.  "As the burden of illness and the burden of disease is diminished in the school community, we can reevaluate what level of restrictions might be recommended."

He says over 200 cohorts have already been dismissed due to confirmed cases.

"We've dismissed more cohorts in this first month or five weeks of school than we did all last year," he says.  "So given all of that, I think we have to maintain a level of vigilance to try to prevent COVID transmission at schools and try to minimize the chances of school outbreaks."

Dr. Nesathurai adds, Windsor-Essex still has one of the lowest vaccination rates among youth in the province.

The delay includes sports, clubs and field trips at both the elementary and secondary level.

— with files from AM800's Rob Hindi