Section 22 Order to Close Schools Not Out of the Question: Dr. Ahmed

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The Medical Officer of Health for Windsor-Essex says he would consider a Section 22 order to close schools locally due to COVID-19, if it has to happen again.

"Never say never, but I hope we don't have to get to that point," says Dr. Wajid Ahmed. Adding, it's hard to set any kind of threshold on whether or not to keep schools open to in-person learning because there are a lot of different factors to consider.

"The local epidemiology, the background community cases, where these sources are coming from, the acquisition sources, the risk of spread in the community versus the risk of spread in the school, who is impacted by it, what kind of practices are in place," he says. "So there are a number of factors that we have to consider before we make that call."

Following a last-minute decision in Toronto and Peel to close several schools after the Easter long weekend, Dr. Ahmed says we are not at that point yet in this region.

"That would be accurate and that's why I presented a lot of data on the schools and just to even feel myself more comfortable to say, ok where are we with the school students and if there is any specific risk that we need to mitigate in the school system."

Dr. Ahmed says health unit staff will continue to monitor the data.

"There are still a lot of students that are currently dismissed and we will continue to monitor the situation to see if we need to change our strategy at this time," he says, "But looking at the data, looking at what we know at this time, we're not there yet to make that call."

Seven schools within the Greater-Essex County District School Board are dealing with positive cases of the virus while 184 students at the local Catholic board were dismissed over the weekend due to positive cases.

 

— With files from AM800's Rusty Thomson