Fort Frances schools reopen but town not out of the woods yet

·2 min read

Cases in Fort Frances and the region have decreased which is a good sign for the area but Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), said if cases rise again schools may have to return to online learning.

It was announced on Thursday that schools in Fort Frances will open up to in-person learning on Jan.25. With the help of The Ministry of Education, additional safety measures will be implemented to help schools decrease the transmission of COVID-19.

All school staff and visitors in both elementary and secondary schools must complete an on-site validation of COVID-19 screening before entering school property. The same on-site validation will be required by all secondary students beginning Feb. 10th, 2021

Young Hoon reminds parents and students of the new prevention measures which include mandatory masking in grades 1-3 in schools, on buses, in school board vehicles, and in before and after school programs, encouragement for masking in kindergarten students and masking outside when a physical distance of 2 meters or more cannot be maintained. As well, all students must be screened at home on a daily basis before going to school.

This will be the first time Fort Frances students are back in the classroom since the holiday break.

There were seven new cases reported in the region over the weekend, with three in the Kenora area, and four in the Rainy River District. There are now 19 active cases in the region. Since March there has been a total of 247 confirmed cases.

Two people are currently hospitalized and there has been a total of 13 hospitalizations during the pandemic.

Young Hoon is continuing to remind the public to continue practicing COVID-19 prevention measures and to avoid getting in contact with those outside of your household which is how COVID is often spread.

“It’s really important for everyone to continue following public health measures because that helps to prevent a sudden increase in case numbers,” Young Hoon said.

Restrictions are still in place in Manitoba, but some are slowly beginning to be loosened. Ontario remains under stay at home orders until at least Feb. 11 and Young Hoon said no one should be travelling to Manitoba unless for essential reasons like medical appointments.

Young Hoon said it is normal for COVID-19 case numbers to fluctuate but it is important to look at the trend of how individuals are contracting the disease. She adds that the decrease in numbers has been a joint effort between the public follow prevention measures and contact tracing.

Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times