A week in, and so far so good in London-area schools

Managing the return to school with the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 has proven to be a challenge in some areas of the province, but less so in the London region.

In Toronto, the health unit is investigating cases at 23 schools.

“My understanding is they are taking it very seriously,” says infectious disease expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch. “There’s been a few classes that are in isolation, there’s some areas that are closed off.”

In Windsor, at least 17 classes have been sent home due to cases of COVID-19, according to Windsor-Essex County Health Unit CEO Nicole Dupuis. That is impacting roughly 600 students.

"The number and total of students so soon is maybe a little bit more than we anticipated, but we were prepared, we did know that there would be quite a large impact."

The rate of vaccinated students between the ages of 12 and 17 stands at 56 per cent in the Windsor area.

Bogoch says it isn’t known yet how much it is spreading within the school.

“It’ll certainly be brought into the schools, we know that, and the rate at which it’s brought will be basically reflective of the rates in the community.”

Where that trend has not continued is in London-Middlesex, where only 10 active cases are being reported in area schools, and zero within the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB).

“No that’s right, we haven’t had any cases thus far,” says Director of Education for LDCSB Vince Romeo. He adds they are going beyond the recommended guidelines set out by the province.

“In most of our schools, especially within the elementary level, we have maintained cohorting, so we’re really keeping classrooms of students as separated as possible.”

One of the added measures is a pause on school volunteers, until at least the end of the month, and a restriction on the use of shared spaces, in an effort of keeping students from moving through the school.

“Those are what I would say, a little bit more cautious then even our re-entry guidance plans. But so far they have been working.”

Romeo re-iterated the cautious approach is due to how fast the Delta variant can spread in a school setting and they will keep the stricter restrictions in place until a time when it is deemed safe to relax them.

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