School board ready for virtual learning if needed

By Kirk Winter

Hahn hopes that vaccines for 5-11- year-olds will help keep infection rates in the elementary panel low.

Trillium Lakelands District School Board’s director of education, Wes Hahn, spent considerable time updating trustees on COVID in the community and schools and the potential impact that rising numbers of illness might have on the board’s back to school plans in January.

“COVID is on everyone’s mind right now,” Hahn said. “There are lots of discussions going on locally and provincially between directors of education and the ministry.”

Hahn said the most up-to-date statistics for COVID cases in the community with trustees pointing out that there were 45 cases in Muskoka, two cases in Haliburton and 33 in Kawartha Lakes. The Kawartha Lakes number was particularly worrying as two weeks ago there were only three cases in the city.

“We have no active cases in the secondary schools which have allowed us to support the movement back to semestering and the continuation of extra-curricular programming,” Hahn said at the recent board meeting.

Unfortunately, the numbers in the elementary panel are not as rosy. Hahn said that public health is monitoring the number of community and school based cases carefully. Hahn told trustees that he hopes that vaccines for 5-11 year-olds will help keep infection rates in the elementary panel low.

Hahn said on Dec. 14 that because of provincial edict kits would not be available for all staff. On Dec. 17, some staff in TLDSB were able to access rapid testing kits that were deemed surplus to student needs.

“We want people to have a safe and enjoyable break,” Hahn added. “If there are going to be any changes for Jan. 3 they will be communicated to parents and students with lots of lead time. We want to take a measured approach. There will be no panic. We hope we will be back at school after the break, but if not we are ready to go (to virtual learning). We are ready to move if we need too.”

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