Guelph is Ready: community leaders come together to discuss a safe return to school
(Guelph, January 14, 2022) – Officials and community leaders from Guelph gather to discuss being ready for a safe return for students.
In an impressive display of community leadership and collaboration, leaders in healthcare, education, public health, and business, along with municipal, provincial, and federal officials swiftly convened to discuss Guelph’s readiness for our children’s return to school.
Leaders from the Upper Grand District School Board and Wellington Catholic District School Board shared that a multi-layered system of infection control to minimize transmission risks in schools exist, including, but not limited to, ventilation, N95 mask provisions, an improved screening tool and prioritization for vaccinations of eligible staff and students.
“We must carefully consider the state of the pandemic and its risk to schools. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is highly transmissible, driving a troubling surge in cases and putting significant pressure on many of our systems and supports”, said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Regional Medical Officer of Health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health in a letter to the community today. “Schools, school boards and their partners across the region have made many changes to make schools as safe as possible. But it will take all of us working together as a community to drive down the levels of COVID-19 locally to make schools safer. The best way to do that is to get vaccinated (including a booster when you are eligible) and continue to follow public health measures. The return to in-person learning will affect every child and family differently. Whether you and your family choose to attend, or not to attend, in-person classes, please use trusted sources to help guide your decision.”
“The health and safety of our students, staff, families and community is our top priority as we navigate through the pandemic,” said UGDSB Director of Education Peter Sovran. “Schools have multiple layers of protective measures in place including masking, distancing, enhanced ventilation, and access to vaccinations for staff and eligible students.”
“The continuity of learning and mental health benefits that come from kids being in a safe school environment are significant and ensuring a safe return for our students has been our number one priority,” said Michael Glazier, Director of Education for the Wellington Catholic District School Board.
“The pandemic has reinforced the importance of our public education system, for the development and learning of our students, and providing support and stability to our families and communities,” said UGDSB Chair Linda Busuttil. “We welcome our students back to in-person learning and acknowledge the work of all our education and public health partners that have made this possible.”
“Keeping our children safe is a priority. We know vaccinations reduce severe disease and the need for hospitalization. We encourage all parents to get their eligible children vaccinated”, said Marianne Walker, CEO of Guelph General Hospital.
“We know that the mental health of our children and youth is strengthened by the structure, routine and support provided by being in safe, supportive classrooms. Schools are an anchor in our kids’ lives”, said Helen Fishburn, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington.
“Many businesses in Guelph have been hard hit by the pandemic and especially so by the latest round of restrictions”, said Shakiba Shayani, CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce. “Supporting our businesses, employers and employees includes ensuring a safe return to school”.
“I applaud the dedication and commitment within our community to the health and well-being of our children”, said MP Lloyd Longfield. “Working together to get kids back to school is critical to supporting our healthcare and other public services; reducing stress on parents, students and teaching staff; and helping business get up and running”, said MPP Mike Schreiner. “I’m so encouraged by the dedication of each of these community leaders coming together with a Team Guelph approach. We all wanted to do whatever necessary to support our school boards, teachers and staff, alongside parents and students, as they head back to in-class learning this Monday” added Mayor Cam Guthrie.