We wanted to send an update regarding the Novel Coronavirus, commonly referred to as COVID-19. With the heightened news coverage and changing situation worldwide, some children and their families may be feeling anxious. Fortunately, there are currently no confirmed cases in Ottawa, making the immediate health risk low to our community. The chance of getting COVID-19 in Ottawa remains very low at this time.
As a School Board, we are responding and are prepared. We are in regular contact with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and with the Ministry of Education and the Ontario Ministry of Health. Dr. Vera Etches, the Medical Officer of Health, has released this video to help Ottawa residents better understand the coronavirus.
What’s Happening in Our Schools?
Touchpoint cleaning with a focus on common areas such as handrails and doors continues to be our focus in our buildings, as advised by OPH. During flu season, our custodial staff routinely disinfect classrooms and take extra care to sanitize common areas such as doorknobs, handrails, and countertops.
We take our local direction from Ottawa Public Health. Board staff are in regular correspondence with OPH regarding the Novel Coronavirus – COVID-19 and follow their recommendations. Ottawa Public Health posts updated information on this site.
Your children’s educators are reminding students of the importance of washing their hands for an appropriate length of time to limit the spread of germs. We have posted Handwashing posters, and in our elementary schools’ teachers are using games and songs to make handwashing fun.
Difficult Decisions Regarding High School International Trips
We have made the difficult but precautionary decision to cancel all High School European trips for March and April. We considered several factors in making this difficult decision, including Health Canada advisories.
We also took into account the real potential that staff and students could be quarantined, either overseas or upon their return to Canada. Also, we considered how these trips might impact the health and safety of our greater school community upon the students’ arrival from overseas trips.
We will continue to monitor the Novel Coronavirus situation in collaboration with our health partners. OCSB Board staff are in regular correspondence with Ottawa Public Health and will follow their direction. We will provide updates through our website, social media channels and directly with families through School Messenger if there are new developments.
What Can We All Do?
We encourage everyone to practice good health habits, including:
- Get a yearly influenza vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies (for flu only);
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer;
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze;
- Avoid touching your face, eyes or mouth;
- If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm; and
- If you or your family members are ill, stay home.
We recognize that there are communities and families who have been impacted more directly by this virus. We continue to keep the health and safety of all of our students and staff in all of our decisions and actions.