COVID-19 outbreak prompts closure of Port Dover school

·2 min read

A COVID-19 outbreak at Lakewood Elementary in Port Dover has prompted the Grand Erie District School Board to close the school.

Parents and guardians learned Monday night that all Lakewood students would switch to online learning as of Tuesday morning.

In a message to the school community, principal David Van Laecke said the decision — made at the board level in consultation with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit — was based on “the number of active cases and individuals identified as close contacts” within the school community.

Van Laecke said the plan is to reopen the school on April 19, after next week’s spring break.

The health unit confirmed a positive case at Lakewood on April 1, and the outbreak grew to the point where a closure was recommended.

“Over the next few days, teachers will be in contact with students and families to ensure that there are no barriers to asynchronous or synchronous learning,” Van Laecke said.

On Tuesday, the health unit declared an outbreak — classified as two or more linked cases — at McKinnon Park Secondary School in Caledonia. The two affected individuals — who were not identified as staff or students — are in self-isolation, and the school remains open.

A recent surge in COVID-19 saw active cases in Haldimand-Norfolk reach 106 on Tuesday, but health unit officials are not considering following the lead of their counterparts in Peel and Toronto and ordering all schools to be closed to slow the spread of the virus.

Instead, the health unit and the two local schools boards will offer free voluntary asymptomatic testing for staff and students at select schools.

The “targeted testing” will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at McKinnon Park on May 1 and Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Simcoe on May 8.

Staff and students from McKinnon Park and six Haldimand County elementary schools can choose to be tested May 1, while tests will be available for six Simcoe schools on May 8 — Holy Trinity, Simcoe Composite School, Elgin Avenue, Lynndale Heights, St. Joseph and West Lynn.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator