Windsor-Essex schools will stay closed for two more weeks as province extends shutdown

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit was prepared to order and extended closure of the system locally if the province didn't act.

Region has seen more than 9,000 COVID-19 cases

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is recommending schools stay closed. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Schools in Windsor-Essex and other parts of southern Ontario will remain closed until late January, the Ford government has announced. 

On Thursday afternoon, the provincial government said it will extend online learning until Jan. 25 in southern Ontario to minimize spread of COVID-19. 

This is in line with what Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, was already planning to do for the region, had the province not ordered an extended closure. 

Windsor-Essex has the highest percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in the province, at 12.3 per cent, Ahmed said Thursday morning in a COVID-19 update.

"While there is no doubt in my mind ... that in-person learning is critical for the developing mind, but we cannot jeopardize the safety of our children given the data what we are seeing in our community," he said.

All schools in Windsor and Essex County were ordered to shut down and pivot to online learning a week before the holiday break.

Under the province-wide shut-down that took effect Boxing Day, elementary students were scheduled to return to the classroom on Jan. 11, while secondary students would stick with online learning until Jan. 25.

Pandemic in Windsor-Essex

Meanwhile, vaccinations at long-term care homes are continuing, with the 13th home expected to be completed Thursday, health officials said.

The health unit reported 199 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the region's total above 9,000.

The number of deaths has risen to 190 after three more fatalities were reported.

Windsor has had 9,045 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started, more than 2,500 which remain active.

With the steep rise in cases, Ahmed remarked that the pandemic curve "almost looks like a wall."

There are 86 people in hospital in the region, with 16 in the ICU and an additional 174 people hospitalized who are suspected to have COVID-19. 

Forty-four outbreaks across various sectors remain active. 

A new outbreak was declared at Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette campus, and two other hospital outbreaks remain ongoing, at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Windsor Regional Hospital's Met campus.

Three community settings — Salvation Army Centre of Hope and two Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario locations — are also in active outbreak.

Outbreaks are active at 18 workplaces:

  • Three in Leamington's agriculture sector.

  • Five in Kingsville's agriculture sector.

  • Three in Windsor's health care and social assistance sector.

  • One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector.

  • One in Tecumseh's health care and social assistance sector.

  • One in Leamington's health care and social assistance sector.

  • One in Windsor's food and beverage service sector.

  • One in a personal service setting in LaSalle.

  • Two in public administration settings in Windsor.

There are 20 active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities:

  • Harrow Woods Retirement Home with one staff case

  • Seasons Retirement Home in Amherstburg with one staff case.

  • Devonshire Retirement Residence in Windsor, with four resident cases.

  • Iler Lodge in Essex, with two staff cases.

  • Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville, with one staff case.

  • Rosewood Erie Glen in Leamington, with 11 resident cases.

  • Chateau Park in Windsor with four staff cases.

  • Leamington Mennonite Home in Leamington, with four staff cases. 

  • Brouillette Manor in Tecumseh, with two staff cases.

  • Augustine Villas in Kingsville, with 14 resident and five staff cases. 

  • Sunrise Assisted Living of Windsor, with six resident cases and six staff cases. 

  • Huron Lodge in Windsor, with 43 resident cases and 21 staff cases. 

  • Sun Parlor Home in Leamington, with six staff cases.

  • Banwell Gardens Care Centre in Windsor, with 81 resident cases and 35 staff cases.

  • The Shoreview at Riverside in Windsor, with 22 resident cases and nine staff cases.

  • Extendicare Tecumseh, with 73 resident cases and 34 staff cases.

  • Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor, with 91 resident and 54 staff cases.

  • The Village at St. Clair in Windsor, with 147 resident cases and 106 staff cases.

  • Chartwell St. Clair Beach in Tecumseh, with 53 resident cases and 12 staff cases.

  • Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh, with 34 resident cases and 15 staff cases.


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