WINDSOR, ONT. – The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit strongly recommends that local school boards and private schools that all extracurricular activities, including sports, clubs, field trips and other non-essential activities, in all schools are delayed until at least October.
Health unit CEO Nicole Dupuis said in a statement Wednesday that the recommendation was made “due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Windsor and Essex County.”
It includes both primary and secondary schools.
“This is not a decision taken lightly. We have always said how essential it is for children to attend schools, ”said Windsor-Essex Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed.
With a fourth wave sweeping through the area, the health unit added the recommendation in a bid to keep schools open.
“Especially the younger ones 12 and under, they don’t even get vaccinated and with the speed with which Delta is spreading, we certainly don’t want it to enter the school system,” Dr Ahmed said.
After hearing the news, a lot of disappointment was expressed in the sports community.
“I just want to play basketball,” said Alisha Murray, a grade 12 student at Kennedy Collegiate.
“Frustrated. I was excited, but I learned today that we have to wait until October. It’s just tired.”
Coaches question the advantage.
“You can’t put two kids on a tennis court or six kids on an outdoor volleyball or cross-country ski court, you can’t do any of those sports, it just doesn’t make sense. Sandwich high school track and field coach Rob Moore said.
While parents and coaches are disappointed, parents also worry about the impact on their children’s mental health.
“Indoors, I certainly understand, but if you stop outdoor sports right away, it will be very difficult for the kids,” said Egidio Mosca, parent and president of Caboto soccer.
Dr Ahmed recognized the difficult choice.
“Extracurricular activities are also very, very important for children’s development, mental development, social development and many other necessary skills, but it is a choice we have to make,” he said.
WECHU has also updated its school reopening toolkit which will soon be shared with boards.
The toolkit recommendations align with those that were in place last year and include:
No in-person gatherings (virtual gatherings only)
No in-person staff meetings (virtual gatherings only)
Wearing an indoor mask for all students participating in in-person learning (including JK / SK courses) at all times.
Physical activity classes should be held outdoors as much as possible with additional restrictions.
Limit the number of non-cohort contacts that individuals have throughout the school day.
“WECHU is committed to continuously reviewing these recommendations as the number of cases is monitored over the coming weeks and months,” said Dupuis.