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Letter: Sudbury school board directors, top doc implore people to stay home so schools can stay open

Although necessary at times, mandatory school closures are not without negative impacts on our children
St. Vincent School COVID 4
Students at Thunder Bay's St. Vincent School wear masks in the classroom to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. (submitted photo)

Editor’s note: The following is a joint letter to parents, guardians and school community members issued Feb. 3 by the directors of education at the four local school boards and local medical officer of health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe.

As the Medical Officer of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts and the Directors of Education for the four area Boards of Education, we are writing to express our support for the essential priority of safe in-person learning as stated in the attached letter from the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health.

We agree with the province’s Medical Officers of Health that the return to school and in-person learning is an essential priority – one we are fortunate to be able to protect throughout the City of Greater Sudbury and districts of Manitoulin and Sudbury District. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have all worked together to protect in-person learning. We are proud of the educators, custodial staff, administrators and area residents for working hard to protect this fundamental right.

We know that mandatory school closures, although at times necessary to protect against COVID-19 spread, are not without negative impacts. Schools give children stable daily routines, nutrition programs, physical activity opportunities, and social connections that are essential for emotional well-being. School settings also help to build children’s skills and shape mental and physical health. Open schools and in-person learning provide safe and healthy environments for our children to grow.

Locally, Public Health and boards of education are working together to ensure infection prevention protocols such as symptom screening, increased hand hygiene practices, cohorting, mask wearing, and ongoing case and contact management, in addition to targeted surveillance when indicated. These measures keep our schools safe. Everyone’s top priority is the health and safety of students and school staff.

Our collective efforts to stay home unless essential, and to practise public health measures, can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and ensure that schools continue to remain open for our children. As a community, we owe this to our kids. They are counting on us.

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe
Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer, Public Health Sudbury & Districts

Joanne Bénard
Director of Education, Sudbury Catholic District School Board

Norm Blaseg
Director of Education, Rainbow District School Board

Marc Gauthier
Director of Education, Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario

Paul Henry
Director of Education, Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon