Hamilton’s medical officer of health is signalling a potential return to online learning in Hamilton after next week’s April break.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, speaking to city councillors on Wednesday morning, indicated that she had a meeting scheduled for later in the day with the directors of education for Hamilton’s school boards.
“My advice to them,” Richardson said, “is going to be that they prepare their students and their teachers as they go home at the end of this week, for a possible pivot to online learning.”
Richardson added that a decision will be made “sometime next week.”
She said there have been 32 outbreaks within the city’s schools since the start of February, and 338 school-related cases of COVID-19.
Richardson stated that the vast majority of transmission of the virus is happening in elementary schools in the form of “student to student transmission.”
Hamilton’s medical officer of health is also pushing for expanded vaccine eligibility in more local hot spots.
On Tuesday, the province announced that it was expanding eligibility to residents aged 50 and older within two postal codes on the Mountain.
Richardson said she’s asked that three other locally identified hot spots be given similar consideration — the L8L and L8N postal codes in the lower city and Ancaster’s L9K prefix.
Richardson says those areas are “more reflective of where things are happening now” in terms of transmission of COVID-19, and how that is driving hospitalizations.
The city is operating pop-up vaccination clinics through the weekend at the Bernie Morelli and Pinky Lewis recreation centres. Richardson indicated that is partly in anticipation of expanded eligibility in those lower city neighbourhoods.
Hamilton is one of 13 public health units that the province has identified as having hot-spot postal codes, where people aged 50 and over are prioritized for vaccinations.
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