Ontario schools to close for two weeks following March Break due to COVID-19 concerns

Local hospitals 'waiting to hear from province' on proposal for separate facilities for coronavirus testing

WELLINGTON COUNTY – All publicly funded schools in Ontario will be closed for two weeks following March Break in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The unprecedented move will see schools closed from March 14 to April 5.

The closure was announced on March 12, based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and experts of the COVID-19 Command Table.

“We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe,” stated a joint press release from Premier Doug Ford, deputy premier and health minister Christine Elliot, and education minister Stephen Lecce.

“Today’s steps build on a number of actions our government has taken in recent days to respond to COVID-19, including moving forward with additional public health measures, which include enhanced access to screening, expanding lab-testing capacity, and implementing new initiatives to keep the public and frontline workers safe.

“We are further setting aside up to $100 million in contingency funding in the upcoming 2020 budget to address challenges related to COVID-19.”

In Wellington County, Groves, Palmerston and Louise Marshall hospitals are preparing separate, dedicated spaces at their facilities to test and treat people who think they may have COVID-19.

Stephen Street, president and CEO of all three facilities, said on March 11 the Fergus, Palmerston and Mount Forest hospitals have submitted proposals to the Ministry of Health to operate testing centres, “and we’re now waiting to hear from the province.”

There have been a few cancellations locally because of the virus.

The Elmira Maple Sugar Festival, which attracts thousands of people from inside and outside the region, has been cancelled.

And the Upper Grand District School Board has cancelled two international trips – one planned for Centre Wellington District High School students to France, and another for Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute (in Guelph) to Italy.

For the latest COVID-19 information from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public health, visit wdgpublichealth.ca/your-health/novel-coronavirus-covid-19.