In response to the rapidly rising COVID-19 cases amongst children and youth and to minimize infection rates in school settings, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has revised the class order for self-isolation, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Section 22, to include those 18 years and younger who are not fully vaccinated and who live in the same house with an unimmunized person who has been identified as a close contact to someone with COVID-19. Such individuals are now required to self-isolate for 10 days along with the close contact in that household.
The updated order takes effect November 23, 2021 and will remain in effect until the medical officer of health declares it is no longer needed.
“In-person learning is essential for the overall well-being of children and youth and keeping schools open is one of our highest priorities,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU Medical Officer of Health. “This additional public health measure aims to decrease the number of asymptomatic children entering the schools, which in turn will protect more student cohorts and minimize learning disruptions due to COVID-19.”
As of November 23, 2021 the health unit reports that about 25 per cent of COVID-19 cases are in children under 12 years of age, who until this week have been ineligible for immunization. A contributing factor to transmission in schools is close contact between individuals within households, particularly if individuals are not fully vaccinated. Of all school-aged cases in the region, approximately 50 per cent are the result of close contact in the household.
SMDHU reminds residents that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through vaccination and that eligible residents, including children 5 to 11 years of age, can obtain their vaccine through participating pharmacies, primary care providers, and community clinics. It is also essential to follow current public health measures, including staying home when feeling ill, maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from those living outside of your household, wearing a mask indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, covering your cough and washing your hands regularly.
For more information about current public health safety measures and requirements, including the complete section 22 order, visit the health unit’s website.