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DDSB Governance Committee to recommend rescinding COVID-19 tracking procedures

DAN CEARNS The Standard

DURHAM: The Durham District School Board’s (DDSB) Governance Committee recommends rescinding their COVID-19 reporting practices.

At a Governance and Policy Committee meeting, on Wednesday, September 27th, members discussed a report which recommended a resolution made in January 2022 be rescinded. The motion called for the Director of Education and their designates to “take all reasonable steps to publicly report data, to the extent it is available, on confirmed and presumed cases in DDSB schools,” to have a self-reporting mechanism available for families and staff, and to have the board provide information on “school and class closures and unusual rates of absenteeism in school communities.”

The possible rescinding of this motion was previously discussed at a board meeting in July, but at that time, it was referred to the governance committee because trustees felt they needed more information and time to discuss this issue.

Student Trustee Ben Cameron questioned if this rescinding recommendation has anything to do with staff hours being delegated to these tasks.

“It’s not really an issue of work hours,” Associate Director Jim Markovski responded. “At this time, [the Durham Region Health Department] has shared that [at] the Ministry of Health, there are no specific plans to provide specific guidance for Covid on health and safety measures in schools. Everything has really been generalized in relation to respiratory illnesses. We have measures in place [where] if absences exceed 30 percent of any school population, we would inform the public health unit.”

The Associate Director added some of the information the board is collecting could be inaccurate as “some of the tools we were using to track Covid, even two years ago, are not being utilized.”

Oshawa Trustee Shailene Panylo asked if there is a tool in place to communicate to communities if the board sees a case of multiple students from one classroom being absent due to a particular illness.

“If we’re observing what I would say [is] a very inordinate level of absenteeism in a specific classroom or a specific school which would meet a certain threshold, we would need to consult with [the Durham Region Health Department]. We have levels like 15 percent, 30 percent where we would automatically have contacts with [the Durham Region Health Department] and start that conversation,” Associate Director Markovski responded.

The committee later approved the rescinding motion. The recommendation is expected to be discussed by trustees at a board meeting on October 16th.

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