Five Guelph schools will be closed until after the holiday break due to increasing COVID-19 cases.
A memo was sent out to families at John F Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute Monday.
The closure came as the school is dealing with 10 COVID-19 cases according to the UGDSB’s “school’s with active COVID-19 cases” list.
On Saturday, the principal of John F Ross issued a notice to parents, guardians and staff, noting an outbreak was declared at John F Ross with six people from the school community testing positive for the disease.
“Public Health has also determined that one or more of these cases is connected to exposure to the new Omicron variant of concern,” wrote Chad Warren.
A spokesperson with Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health told CTV News Tuesday that Omicron is now present at the school.
Public health says 15 cohorts, or 800 students, had been dismissed from that school.
“I think the most important thing, when we dismiss cohorts, we are not saying that everyone in that cohort has a disease,” the region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer said. “We’re saying that, when we dismiss them, please go home. You’ve been exposed, so you need to watch to see if you have disease and many of them are advised to go get tested as well.”
The WDG official noted the closure at John Ross CVI was a decision by the Upper Grand District School Board, which is supported and viewed as proactive by the public health unit.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Wellington Catholic District School Board said Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School, St. James Catholic High School, St. Joseph Catholic School in Guelph and St. Michael Catholic School will shift to online learning from Dec. 15 to 17.
An update on the school board’s website said the “school communities have experienced increases in COVID-19 cases along with a growing number of students and staff identified as high-risk case contacts requiring to self-isolate due to potential exposure to the omicron COVID-19 variant.”
Students will get information before the end of the day Wednesday about accessing classes for the rest of the week.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health will reach out to anyone who is considered a high-risk contact.
Winter break is scheduled from Dec. 18 to Jan. 2.
PROOF OF VACCINATION AT RECREATION FACILITIES
The City of Guelph says it will now require anyone between the age of 12 and 17 to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to play organized sports at recreation facilities. This follows provincial guidelines, which come into effect on Dec. 20.
Provincial vaccine certificates using a QR code will be required for anyone 12 and older coming to Centennial Arena, Evergreen Seniors Community Centre, Exhibition Arena, Guelph Sports Dome, Sleeman Centre Arena, Victoria Road Recreation Centre, West End Community Centre and Guelph Museums starting Jan. 4.
HOCKEY GAMES CANCELLED
The Guelph Minor Hockey Association has cancelled all games until after Christmas. The Guelph Girls Hockey Association also cancelled games.
“With the number of players, and even entire teams, that are being forced to choose between playing the game they love and staying home in case they might be sick, growing daily, we felt this was the best course of action,” an update on their website said.
Dr. Mercer said this was a voluntary decision made by the hockey associations.
“Across the community, we’re seeing growing numbers, especially in our elementary schools,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of transmission in those that are in the five to 11 age group.”
STATE OF EMERGENCIES EXTENDED
The City of Guelph and the County of Wellington have officially extended their states of emergency.
“There’s been a lot of push now for the need for city resources to help with vaccinations and staffing that might be needed as well,” Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie said.
Guthrie said he was looking forward to lifting the clause in the new year, but that’s not longer a reality.
“The state of emergency affords the municipality to give those resources in a timely manner,” he said.