KAWARTHA LAKES- Due to the pandemic, vaccines and other health services that are routinely offered in local schools have been cancelled.
Schools in the Haliburton, Kawartha and Pine Ridge districts will experience change as vaccines and other health related services in school settings will be terminated for the time being.
According to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, HKPR, various services that are normally delivered in our many public schools will be restructured as a result of COVID-19.
“We have all had to change the way in which we do our work,” officials said. “At the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit we have explored community priorities, considered provincial direction and our organizational capacity and have made the difficult decision to restructure our work and services we deliver in the school setting for the 2020/2021 school year.”
According to HKPR, services such as vision and oral health screening and the school based immunization program will come to an end and parents will be redirected for alternatives.
“Yes, a lot of families do benefit from these programs but there are a lot of challenges right now due to COVID-19,” said Sinead Fegan, Communication Officer for Trillium Lakelands District School Board. “We are working closely with our local health units on a daily basis to come up with the best possible solutions, keeping our students safe is our top priority.”
And as families do utilize these services, many of us are navigating through a new world right now, she added.
The HKPR Health Unit will not be offering the vision-screening program to the JK/SK students. As a result, they will encourage parents to attend an OHIP covered optometrist visit for children.
Oral health screenings will be delayed but will be reconsidered on a regular basis throughout the year and officials will determine if it’s appropriate and safe to proceed.
HKPR will not be offering the school fluoride varnish program but they are currently working through renovations of their clinical spaces in Port Hope and Lindsay and will be considering offering both the screening and fluoride varnish application in those offices in the new year. Updates will be posted on the health departments website.
And to take further precaution, the health department will refrain from visiting schools this fall to provide Grade 7 and 8 students with the school based immunization program.
According to health officials, to ensure students have the opportunity to be vaccinated, the health unit will be offering immunization clinics.
These vaccines have also been made available to health care providers across the region, they said.
Parents will receive notifications if their child has missed their vaccination. The letter to parents and or guardians will include information on how to book an appointment with the health unit for their child to receive the pertinent vaccine or they can contact their health care provider.
Enforcement of the Immunization for School Pupils Act will continue. Notices will be given out to those students who are behind on their immunizations.
According to health officials, due to the wide range of changes to the school year, principals to those students who have fallen behind on the vaccination requirements will not enforce suspension.
The HKPR Health Department could not be reached for comment.