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Public health ‘anticipating’ Kingston post-secondary schools to continue distance learning

The local public health unit has advised post-secondary schools like Queen's University to continue distance learning during the next academic year due to novel coronavirus concerns.
The local public health unit has advised post-secondary schools like Queen's University to continue distance learning during the next academic year due to novel coronavirus concerns. Global News

KFL&A Public Health is advising local post-secondary institutions to continue online and distance learning for the next academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region, said during a board of health meeting on Wednesday that he believes local post-secondary schools will be heeding that advice.

“I anticipate that they’ll maintain that distance learning and monitor how COVID-19 spreads in the fall and winter,” Moore said on the conference call Wednesday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Queen’s, St. Lawrence suspend classes for a week

He noted that early on, public health was in communication with Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College to address immediate concerns to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, locally among higher education students.

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On March 13, both the university and the college suspended classes for a week in order to recalibrate, and come back with distance learning.

When asked by Coun. Jeff McLaren if Queen’s had indeed agreed to continue classes online for the next academic semester, Moore said he did not believe the final decision had been made.

“That would be our recommendation to them,” Moore answered, “and we are in dialogue with them three times a week regarding these issues.”

READ MORE: How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

The medical officer of health also noted that they would consider defining certain faculties, particularly medicine and nursing, as priority education, considering the potential benefit to the health system.

COVID-19: Stay-at-home online learning tips for parents
COVID-19: Stay-at-home online learning tips for parents

McLaren then asked Moore if he had sway in decisions about local elementary and high schools, but Moore said school boards are provincially controlled.

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“We have some input at the provincial level through medical officers of health and directors of boards of education committee,” Moore said, “but we haven’t heard any decisions that they’re making regarding elementary or secondary schools for the fall.”