The Northwestern Health Unit says they will be working alongside local schools to help implement new daily COVID-19 screening requirements in the area.

The Ministry of Education has implemented these measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission in both elementary and secondary schools, and applies to all students, staff and visitors.

As of January 25, all staff and visitors in both elementary and secondary schools must complete an on-site validation of COVID-19 screening before entering school property, and the same validation will be required by all secondary students as of February 10.

The method for this validation isn’t known, but the health unit will be working alongside schools to determine a safe and efficient way to implement the new requirements. If you don’t pass the validation, it’s presumed you would be sent home and not allowed inside.

The health unit adds all students must be screened at home on a daily basis before going to school by using the Student Screening Tool provided by Ontario. These new measures aim to ensure these screenings are taking place.

As of January 21, the Northwestern Health Unit is reporting two active cases in the Kenora region and seven in the District of Rainy River, with 238 confirmed cases since march and 1 death.

Students in Fort Frances are also set to return to the classroom for the first time since the Holiday break, as in-person learning was delayed in the area due to the risk of rising COVID-19 cases in the community.

“We have assessed the status of COVID-19 in the community of Fort Frances, and in collaboration with local school boards, in-person learning can resume on January 25th, 2021,” says Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health at NWHU.

The surge of cases seen in early January has steadily declined and all active cases and contacts are being monitored by public health, notes a press release by the health unit.

“Our team will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in all communities across the region to ensure schools are a safe place to keep open,” Dr. Young Hoon adds.

Students in Fort Frances are being asked to take extra steps to protect themselves, which include:

- Mandatory masking in grades 1-3 in schools, on buses, school board vehicles, and in before and after school programs,
- Encouragement for masking of Kindergarten students,
- Masking outside when social distancing of two metres or more cannot be maintained.

For more information:
Health unit adds targeted testing to help monitor schools
In-person learning delayed in Fort Frances due to COVID-19 risk