Five Simcoe County Catholic schools report new COVID-19 cases

The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic school board reports five schools with new COVID-19 cases since Friday.

The school board lists cases at St. Jean de Brebeuf, Holy Trinity Catholic High School and St. Angela Merici, all in Bradford, St. Mary's in Collingwood, and St. Catherine of Siena in Barrie.

Of the five schools, eight classrooms are closed.

In all, 14 Catholic schools in the region have at least a single case listed, for a total of 26.

The province maintains schools are safe for students and staff with "strong public health measures" in place.

Premier Doug Ford has said schools would remain open following speculation they would close after the Easter long weekend, adding closing would be disastrous for students' mental health.

Last week, Education Minister, Stephen Lecce, said schools would not close regardless of growing case counts in the province. "We are increasing our vigilance and corresponding action to make sure that when a child returns from that break, we can do so with confidence that they are not entering with potential cases," Lecce said on Wednesday.

School boards encourage students and their families to participate in asymptomatic testing at various clinics across the region.

Testing is done by LifeLabs and is voluntary. The next asymptomatic testing clinic will be at Banting Memorial High School in Alliston on Thurs. April. 8, between 3:30 pm and 8 pm.

Meanwhile, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) calls on the province and public health to "immediately prioritize" teachers and educational workers for the vaccine.

In a release Monday, union president Liz Stuart stated, "While a third wave is tearing across the province and new restrictions are being imposed on businesses and other public spaces, the Ford government continues to go against all evidence by insisting that schools are somehow immune to the spread of COVID-19."

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will resume reporting COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.