PETERBOROUGH-Both the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge (HKPR) District School Board and the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland, Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNCCDSB)say they have not dismissed any unvaccinated students despite Peterborough’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH)claiming otherwise.
On April 4th Peterborough MOH Dr Thomas Piggott tweeted:
“Significant illness in schools due to COVID-19 is being detected here this week & we are continuing to dismiss children who are not fully vaccinated. If your children haven’t been vaccinated, it is not too late to catch up. I strongly recommend all continue to wear masks.”
Kawartha 411 News contacted both local school boards and both said they have not dismissed any unvaccinated students.
“I can share that students are not being dismissed from school as a result of not being vaccinated and schools do not collect COVID vaccination information.” Gregg Kidd Executive Officer, Corporate Affairs, HKPR told Kawartha 411 News.
PVNCCDSB also confirmed they have not dismissed any students due to vaccination status.
“In response to your inquiry, I can confirm that PVNCCDSB students are not being dismissed as a result of vaccination status. Schools do not collect vaccination information.” Galen Eagle, Communications Manager told Kawartha 411 News.
Piggott tweeted a similar remark on January 20th saying:
@Ptbohealth we’re continuing to look out for the safety of our children in schools in collaboration with our school boards. We are tracking absenteeism/RAT/PCR and we will be dismissing children who are not fully vaccinated if there is evidence of COVID.
The school boards also say they have no way of knowing if schools are seeing “significant levels of illness due to COVID-19” and they are not tracking absenteeism using RAT/PCR tests. They track general rates of absenteeism for a variety of illnesses.
“In situations where there has been a significant rate of absenteeism at our schools (over 30%), which MAY indicate COVID-19 transmission, local public health units make families aware of the situation through a letter and may make recommendations, for example that students, staff and families self-monitor for symptoms” Kidd explains. “Peterborough Public Health has also recommended in these schools with high rates of absences that students who are not fully vaccinated stay home from school for five days. Please note that the decision to follow this recommendation is up to the individual family.”
Eagle says PVNCCDSB follows a similar protocol.
“In the scenario where a school reports a significant rate of absenteeism, which in conversation with our public health units has been set at 30% or higher, the appropriate health unit may provide the school with a notification letter to distribute to families. This notification letter may also make specific recommendations to families, such as the self-monitoring of symptoms or extra masking precautions,” Eagle says.
As of this date, PPH has not provided an absentee notification letter to any PVNCCDSB schools/families since the new reporting requirements went into effect in January according to Eagle.
The province stopped reporting COVID cases in schools at the beginning of the year. To support ongoing monitoring and transparency related to COVID-19 impacts on schools, the Ministry of Education now requires schools to monitor their own absenteeism rates (for all illnesses)and report on student and staff absences and school closures daily.
Peterborough Public Health did not respond to our multiple requests for clarification and comment.