WELLINGTON COUNTY – All schools in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) region will close to in-person learning on Wednesday (April 7) due to “the troubling rise in cases of COVID-19 among children.”
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer is expected to order the closures on Tuesday morning, the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) confirmed in a press release on Monday evening.
“As such, all UGDSB schools will close to in-person learning and will shift to remote learning effective [April 7 to 18] with the possibility of an extension, if the local COVID-19 situation warrants it,” states the release.
In a press release issued later Monday night, Mercer stated, “I wish this step was not required. I know the tremendous burden this places on families in our region.”
However, she added, “The growing number of cases across the province and the severity of the COVID-19 variants of concern places all of us at risk.”
The Section 22 Order will be available on the WDGPH website once issued.
The order means all schools in the region will shift to remote learning, including students in specialized class placements.
“Tuesday (April 6) will be a regular instructional day,” the UGDSB confirmed on Twitter.
Education directors in the region met with Mercer on Monday evening to “discuss the troubling rise in cases of COVID-19 among children,” stated the WDGPH press release.
The directors were told they could inform parents in advance of Mercer’s official announcement on Tuesday in order to give parents extra time to make any required arrangements.
It is expected the April 12 to 16 break, rescheduled from March, will go ahead as planned.
The provincial government had announced on April 1 that schools would remain open despite the issuance of a four-week province-wide “emergency brake shutdown” starting on April 3.
However, several local medical officers of health decided on Monday to close schools in response to increasing COVID-19 cases, the seriousness of variants driving the third wave and the corresponding impact on the province’s health care system.
“We continue to take aggressive steps on COVID-19 vaccinations; that is the only way out of this pandemic,” stated Dr. Mercer.
“Until we reach significant levels of vaccination, we remain at risk. I urge people to continue to follow public health guidelines.”