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Media Release: Local Public Health and School Boards Working Together to Support Safe Return to School

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/July 30, 2020 – Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) and KFL&A Public Health are working together with local school boards to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment for students and staff this September.

As announced today by the Ontario Premier, Doug Ford and the Minister of Education, Stephen Leece, Ontario elementary and secondary schools will return to classes in September.

HPEPH and KFL&A Public Health have been working together with school boards throughout the summer to plan enhanced processes and safety measures to support various return to school options. Details about these processes are being finalized in order to align with the recent provincial announcement. Additional information will be shared with parents, students, and staff in the coming weeks to help everyone prepare for changes in the school environment.

“As the local risk of COVID- 19 continues to evolve, we are working diligently to help local children, youth and staff return to school safely and access the educational, social, and developmental benefits of the school environment,” says Dr. Alexa Caturay, Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. “While it is possible that infections may occur in the school environment despite enhanced public health measures, we have processes in place to identify cases quickly and reduce potential exposure to others. It is also important to remember that the majority of COVID-19 infections among children, youth, and individuals without underlying health concerns are mild, and can be managed at home with a full recovery”.

HPEPH, KFL&A Public Health, and local school boards recognize that kids, parents, caregivers, and staff may have concerns about returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. The community can be reassured that there are existing processes in place to respond to any cases or outbreaks of infectious disease in the school environment, and that public health and education partners are working together to implement many additional protocols to reduce the potential spread of illness among students.

HPEPH and KFL&A Public Health recognize that parenting can be stressful, especially during uncertain times. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing messages to help parents and caregivers be well, stay positive, and keep connected during the back to school season.

To learn more about COVID-19, how you can protect yourself and what to do if you suspect you may be at risk, visit hpePublicHealth.ca or visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

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Recorded statement from Dr. Alexa Caturay, Acting Medical Officer of Health

Media Contact:

Veronica Montgomery, Foundational Standards Manager
vmontgomery@hpeph.ca

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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In-person services are gradually resuming by appointment only. Please review our Service Interruptions page for more information about the current status of HPEPH services, as well as what to expect if you visit our office.

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