Two more cases at Orangeville high school; Board advises schools to prepare for remote learning in new year

·3 min read

Orangeville District Secondary School has recorded two more active cases of COVID-19, resulting in two more class closures.

In a letter issued to parents/guardians and staff by school principal, Patrick Hamilton, there is no indication of an outbreak being declared by Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health.

Based on guidelines put out by the WDGPH, this means that while there have been multiple individuals who have tested positive for the virus, these cases are not connected to transmission within the school.

“Our building is safe and remains open to staff and students,” said Hamilton. “Custodial staff have completed a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the school, as part of our enhanced cleaning protocol.”

WDGPH determined that one of the two cases did not pose a risk to other students or the public beyond the general risk that exists within the community.

The second case, a risk of transmission was identified and actions were taken accordingly.

“All students and staff determined to be at high risk of exposure have been contacted and directed to isolate and follow Public Health Protocol,” said Hamilton.

News also broke late Wednesday evening (Dec. 16) that Education Minister Stephen Lecce had distributed a memo to Ontario school boards notifying them a decision may be made to shut down in-person learning following the winter break.

This decision comes even though transmission within schools has remained low.

“We are recommending that boards encourage students and staff to take home any materials that they may require for remote learning before they leave school for the holiday period so that we can continue to be ready for all scenarios,” reads the memo.

Heather Loney, spokesperson for the Upper Grand District School Board, told the Banner that recommendations have been provided to staff and students to bring home devices and materials with them over the winter break.

“This is not uncommon practice prior to an extended break,” noted Loney.

Schools are not being advised to send additional technology home with students prior to the break at this time.

“As has been our practice throughout the year, if the board receives direction that schools are to shift to remote learning, we will arrange for device pick up at schools, as required,” explained Loney.

She added that high school students taking items home is not uncommon from day-to-day either.

“In our secondary schools, students routinely take their devices and belongings home with them each day, as they need these items for independent and remote learning on a daily basis,” said Loney.

Loney said that as far as she is aware, there was no indication in the memo as to a date when the Province would make their decision.

As of 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 17, there are seven active COVID-19 cases in Dufferin County schools within the UGDSB. For more information on current reported COVID-19 cases within the Upper Grand District School Board, please visit their reporting page.

· Spencer Avenue Elementary School - Orangeville (2 active cases, 2 class closures)

· Orangeville District Secondary School - Orangeville (5 active case, 3 class closures)

Current to Dec. 17, WDGPH has identified 39 active cases across Dufferin County, with a total of 8 newly confirmed cases from their previous update on Dec. 16. There are 413 cases in the area that have been resolved. Five individuals are currently hospitalized.

More information regarding COVID-19 cases and trends within WDGPH’s borders is available on their COVID-19 reporting page. Municipal data can now also be found by visiting the ‘Cases by Municipality’ tab under each region.

- with files by InsideHalton.com

Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner