School boards urge parents to just say ‘no’

·2 min read

Chatham-Kent's COVID-19 numbers have “substantially increased” over the past week according to its top doc.

On Thursday, CK Public Health reported seven new cases and one recovery, raising the active total to 46. A week ago, the active total sat at 11.

The outbreak in the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s Lab Services and Dialysis Unit only makes up five of the cases, which were reported on Sunday.

Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, attributes the increase to indoor gatherings which are against public health advice.

“If one person who is contagious shows up at those gatherings, the indoor environment and lack of physical distancing that is inherent in all kinds of social interactions will ensure – especially with these hyper transmissible (COVID-19 mutations – that large numbers of people will be exposed and large numbers of cases will result,” he said.

The directors of education for the Lambton-Kent District School Board (LKDSB) and St. Clair Catholic District School Board said there has also been an increase in confirmed cases among school-aged children in their districts.

John Howitt, with LKDSB, said pandemic fatigue and kids participation in large events are contributing to the increase of cases.

“COVID fatigue is hitting a point where those in the community are coming to a point where they're not willing to say no to their children around participation in events, or gatherings or activities,” he said. “It's really, really important that we recognize the light at the end of the tunnel… but understand there’s still distance in the tunnel before we get to that light.”

Howitt asked parents to consider if invitations for events are worth following through and potentially impacting dozens of families with the virus.

“Because it is a simple choice that has a very strong impact on others as we are seeing in some of our schools.”

Deb Crawford, with the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, said that the schools are not seeing the transfer of the virus within the schools, which confirms it is coming from other areas of the community.

“We would really ask parents to make those good choices because the schools are really trying to keep everyone safe,” she said.

Howitt added that the efforts of public health for its contact tracing efforts has helped keep the spread in schools at bay.

“The way that that makes a difference is that for example, there were three new cases last night at three different schools. None of those impacted any of the schools or required the dismissal of any students as the three cases were already home safe at the self isolating.”

Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice