As the number of coronavirus cases in Simcoe County and Muskoka continues to rise, the region’s Catholic school board is no longer allowing high school students to leave their classrooms for lunch.
In a letter addressed to parents Sunday, the board’s interim education director said many students who are going out for lunch are gathering in close proximity to one another without masks.
“This behaviour is concerning and affects the safety of all staff and students when they come back to school after their lunch,” Catherine McCullough said in the letter.
“Please be advised that schools will not accept notes from parents/guardians who wish to excuse their child from the building for lunch.”
McCullough said the new measure is meant to help keep students in their cohort for the rest of the day and to limit their unnecessary contact with others.
“In keeping with the integrity of the cohort, any student who leaves the building during the assigned lunch period will not be permitted to return to the school for the remainder of the day,” McCullough wrote.
So far, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board has reported two coronavirus cases at its schools in total — one at Father F.X. O’Reilly Catholic School in Tottenham, Ont., and the other at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Barrie, Ont.
Since the beginning of September, the region has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, which prompted Simcoe Muskoka’s top doctor, Dr. Charles Gardner, to urge people to reduce their social circles to household members and to avoid social gatherings.
There have been 816 total cases of the novel coronavirus in Simcoe Muskoka, with 771 in Simcoe County and 45 in Muskoka.