By AMANDA GIBB
Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) has launched numerous back-to-school initiatives to support the community and ensure children return to school safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
These initiatives include the Toronto East School Support (TESS) forum, Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Champion program, COVID-19 outreach centres, take-home testing kits, Paediatric Emergency Department COVID-19 Assessment Zones, wraparound supports for confirmed positive cases, and pop-up vaccine clinics.
MGH partnered with East Toronto Family Practice Network (EasT-FPN) to launch the TESS forum, a virtual town hall where principals, teachers, and child care workers in the area can ask questions about COVID-19 and safety. Dr. Janine McCready, Infectious disease physician at MGH, provides answers in real-time.
“We’re thrilled to continue working with MGH to support our local school and child care communities as they prepare for back-to-school through our Toronto East School Support (TESS) forum and by ensuring families have easy access to testing, vaccines and wraparound supports, including primary care,” said Dr. Catherine Yu, family physician at Health Access Thorncliffe Park and EasT-FPN in a press release.
“We’ve learned a lot from last year and we have so many initiatives surrounding COVID developed to respond to needs, assessment, and social determinants of health…(the impact) can be quite higher in some neighbourhoods,” said Dr. Yu in an interview with Beach Metro News.
Dr. Yu said that children returning to school can display symptoms like runny noses in the weeks following and that it’s “hard to predict” if there will be a flood of parents coming to have their children tested for COVID as in-person classes begin.
“Kids should still wear masks, wash their hands, stay home if they’re sick and get tested, and reach out to COVID assessment centres,” she said.
She said that the at-home testing kits offered are important to help curb the spread by reducing the time to identify positive COVID-19 cases.
“I think what’s similar about this year (compared to last year) is a period of the unknown. We need to get ready and have systems in place to respond to community members,” said Dr. Yu.
Many parents in the community may feel nervous about sending their children under 12 back to school because they are currently ineligible to be vaccinated. Dr. Yu said that vaccinated adults around school children can help safeguard them from COVID-19.
“Vaccinations are key in adults, if all eligible people are vaccinated, that’s how we protect our kids,” she said.
Dr. Yu said that while there is information from around the world on trends regarding the Delta variant, that the best thing they can do is to be ready for anything.
She said that because these services are integrated and that MGH is working closely with schools, that no door is the wrong door for community members looking for COVID-19 support.
To learn more about MGH’s back-to-school initiatives and information to help make sure children have a safe return to school, please visit https://www.tehn.ca/about-us/newsroom/michael-garron-hospital-launches-proactive-community-based-back-school-covid-19