Local support for deferring Spring Break grows as COVID-19 numbers decrease

CORNWALL – Local support for deferring or outright cancelling Spring Break has grown, as local case numbers continue to decline.

On Thursday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce told media that the cancellation of Spring Break this year was a possibility and that the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams will make that call soon.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell agreed that deferring the break would be a good idea.

“There are travel restrictions and people can’t go anywhere,” McDonell said. “There are risks involved if people get together during the break, against the public health guidance for gatherings.”

The MPP said that officials were talking about this at the provincial health table.

Ontario has been under a provincial Stay-at-Home order for nearly four weeks, and a province-wide lockdown order since Boxing Day. Both orders are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. February 9th.

“I support deferring Spring Break,” Eastern Ontaro Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told The Leader when asked.

While government and health officials are supportive of deferring or cancelling the Spring Break, unions representing education workers are not.

In a statement on social media, the Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which represents 55,000 CUPE education workers, said that it supported the status quo for Spring, or March, Break.

We told the Ministry [of Education] unequivocally that March break needed to stay status quo, both for the mental health needs of all of our members and students but also due to contractual obligations as set out in both our central and local collective agreements.”

The union said that if the days were outright cancelled by the government, it would move to file a dispute over  a violation to its central agreement. If the province decides to cancel the break and end the school year a week early, the OSBCU would file local grievances at each school board.

Back to the pandemic, the EOHU provided an update for retirement residence vaccinations in the area. Residents of the region’s long-term care homes all received their first doses of vaccine by the end of last week. Now those who live in retirement residences are receiving their first vaccination doses as well.

The Chartwell Hartford Residence in Morrisburg is scheduled to receive vaccines between February 15th and February 22nd. The schedule varies day-by-day depending on how many doses are available from suppliers, and how many are prepared for use.

Overall COVID-19 infections continue to decrease as the City of Cornwall has dropped below 100 active cases for the first time in over two weeks. The region saw a net drop of 30 active cases since Thursday, with 219 cases active as of the EOHU’s February 5th update.

Locally in South Dundas there is one active case, and there has been 24 cases overall. North Dundas has seven active cases, 61 overall; South Stormont has 40 active cases, 134 overall. Most of the South Stormont cases are related to an outbreak at the Woodland Villa LTC home in Long Sault.

There are 12 facilities that have a declared outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus including Woodland Villa and Glen Stor Dun Lodge in Cornwall. There are no outbreaks in schools or daycare centres in the region. Only one student has tested positive since classes returned to in-person learning this week.

There have been 2,581 people who have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic reached the region 11 months ago, and 60 people have died.

Twenty-three people are currently hospitalized, but none are in intensive care units. The region’s ICU occupancy rate in area hospitals is at 81 per cent, the COVID-19 ICU occupancy rate is zero.

The reproductive rate in the EOHU has dropped to 0.81, and the rolling seven-day average of new infections per 100,000 people has dropped to 37.9. This means that if the provincial Stay-at-Home and lockdown orders were removed today, the region would be in the Orange-Restrict level according to the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework.

On a positive note about the fears of a “Twin-demic” of COVID-19 and the Flu, the EOHU has not reported any cases of Influenza so far this season. Public health measures such as wearing a face mask, along with students not being in school for learning are seen as reasons for the drop in Flu cases.


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