While we are happy and excited to see day and after-school programming return to CLASS, we will continue with a very measured and guarded approach to further re-openings since the number of Covid cases have been climbing again.
As a result, we have made the decision to hold off moving forward with any new or additional programming at this time. This decision was not an easy one to make, but one we felt must be made on the side of caution, not only for the people we support, but also for our staff and their families.
CLASS will continue to keep our friends and families informed of all changes in the days and weeks ahead, as we all continue to help fight and slow the spread of COVID -19.
We look forward to seeing you all again very soon! Stay safe and healthy and call or email us if you have any questions.
As you are undoubtedly aware, Ontario is experiencing a significant spike in cases with 478 new infections reported again today. These numbers are reflective of the numbers we saw in early May, which was weeks before we were able to move to stage one of the provincial re-opening. This causes us grave concern as a potential second wave combined with seasonal influenza could be devastating for our community. The CLASS management team have met and are monitoring the situation very closely. We are asking that you follow the gathering and social distancing rules at all times. We are not supporting travel outside of the South Simcoe area as we are directing people to avoid ‘hotspots” throughout the province. Please note that as the situation changes, CLASS will respond by amending guidelines and visiting protocols as part of our risk management strategy. We appreciate your support and patience as we all work through this second wave.
Here is the latest updates from Public Health:
Simcoe Muskoka Health Website
Effective September 19, 2020
The Government of Ontario announced the new limit on the number of people allowed to attend unmonitored private social gatherings across the province:
10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50);
25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100)
Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. Gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.
Unmonitored and private social gatherings include functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.
As the COVID numbers rise provincially CLASS is monitoring the changing landscape daily. We have not pulled back on community outings, visits or short-term absences as of yet, however, due to our responsibility to slow/stop the spread of COVID, we will revisit all, as needed.
Please see the update from Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit
CLick here for Simcoe Muskoka Health Website
Worrisome rise in COVID-19 cases a reminder to shrink social circles, gatherings
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – As local cases of COVID-19 sharply rise to numbers not seen since the spring, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is asking the public to shrink their social circles as much as possible to those within their own household and to be cautious to reduce their exposure within the community.
“As our social interactions have increased in the summer, so too have our COVID-19 cases, which is worrisome at this time when we are just now returning to school, and for the more vulnerable in our communities,” said Dr. Colin Lee, SMDHU’s associate medical officer of health. “We need people to scale back on their get-togethers/gatherings, and to remember to be cautious with people not in their household, even if they are in their social circle of 10. Social circles are not invincible to COVID-19.”
There have been 42 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (as of Thursday) in Simcoe Muskoka for the week of September 13th. This is the highest number of weekly cases since the week of May 10th when the region saw 44 cases, and the week still has not ended. The increase in cases includes clusters in multiunit dwellings and households, and one case related to a school staff member.
“This pandemic has been difficult for all of us and we know that everyone is trying to do their best,” said Dr. Lee. “What we need to do now is continue to work together, and to look out for one another, so that we can live with this pandemic as safely and as normally as possible until it’s over.”
To keep everyone safe, including those returning to school and those living in long-term care homes:
Shrink your close contacts (the people you can get close to such as hugging and touching) as much as possible to only those people within your own household and those whose well-being requires or is dependent on it.
Think carefully about how often and where you go out to in the public, and try to limit to what is essential and avoid crowded spaces.
Limit social gatherings, and keep the number of people in your gatherings and get-togethers to 10 people or less indoors, or 25 or less outdoors; with people outside of your household, practice physical distancing, or wear a mask if you can’t.
Parents should screen children for symptoms of COVID-19 every day before they leave for school; if a child has even one symptom, they should stay home and self-isolate, and get tested.
People are also reminded to continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained, practice hand hygiene, self-monitor for symptoms and if you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and get tested.
For more information on COVID-19, visit the health unit’s COVID-19 website, including Frequently Asked Questions or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The health, safety, and well-being of people who access our services and our employees has been our top priority since the beginning of this pandemic. CLASS has continued to follow and change our policies in compliance with the most up to date information from Public Health, the Government of Ontario, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS).
The new guidelines that came into effect on August 28, 2020 around re-opening of congregate care settings provide updated direction on the following:
• Day visits off CLASS property
• Essential overnight visits
• Outdoor visits on CLASS property
As the government continues with the phased re-opening of the province it is important to recognize that people in congregate care living enjoy the same rights as all Ontarians. These new guidelines respect people supported and their rights, desires, and willingness to participate in the life of their community while following public health guidance.
Access to outings and community participation must be in-line with people’s preferences and within reasonable restrictions that safeguard people supported and staff. Please refer to the attached Risk Activity Levels and Matrix of Support for Covid-19 that CLASS utilizes as a guide to determine risk levels.
For all activities outside of the group home including day visits, outings and overnights, the following requirements must be met by the person CLASS supports:
• Must pass an active screening questionnaire for signs and symptoms of and potential exposure to Covid-19 each time they re-enter the group home setting
• Screened twice daily, if someone does not pass a screening, CLASS will follow isolation policies
• Perform proper hand hygiene upon exit and entry of the group home setting and maintain hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette on entry and exit of all buildings and spaces while in the community
• Must maintain hand hygiene after touching objects or surfaces that could be touched by others or after touching others
• When out in the community must wear a face mask/covering/cloth mask when entering indoor spaces or when they are within 6 feet of others in outdoor spaces; masks should only be removed to eat or drink and put back on immediately after
• Adhere to physical distancing as much as possible and to any public health advice related to local conditions and requirements
• Crowded spaces and interactions with multiple people should be avoided.
MCCSS directs agencies such as CLASS to take careful consideration as to when and whether an essential overnight visit (e.g. to a family home) is considered necessary to maintain the health, wellness and safety, or any applicable legal rights, of a resident.
We are asking families to please consider the impact a day or overnight visit may have on the person supported. With the enhanced precautions, especially after an overnight visit, CLASS is encouraging day visits only if at all possible. If the person visiting cannot wear a mask as per the guidelines during their visit, families are encouraged to wear a mask to help keep them safe, as well as a protection to others upon their family members return back to the group home.
Essential Overnight Absences:
Upon return to a CLASS group home from an overnight visit (e.g. to a family home), the following enhanced precautions must take place for 14-days post visit:
• The person supported must pass an active screening questionnaire that screens for signs and symptoms of and potential exposures to COVID-19
• They may only receive outdoor visitors during the 14 days (visits are not permitted in CLASS residences at this time)
• They will be monitored for symptoms
• They will be directed to avoid using common areas; however, if a common area cannot be avoided, the resident must use a face covering/mask
• They will have limited contact with other residents
• They may only participate in group activities if physical distancing is maintained (i.e., a distance of 6 feet) and use a face covering/mask
• They will be required to practice proper hand hygiene by washing their hands often (using soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer)
• Adherence to respiratory etiquette
• Continue to follow appropriate physical distancing guidelines (i.e., maintaining a distance of 6 feet).
People supported who are following the 14-day of enhanced precautions may leave their group home for day visits (non-overnight)/outings, e.g. go to school, go on walks and other activities of daily living, following the precautions outlined above.
Leaving their home for a day visit/outing will NOT reset the 14-day time period. However, another overnight stay during the same 14-day period will reset the 14-day period.
If you wish to arrange an off-site day visit please connect with the house staff to co-ordinate. If you are considering an overnight visit, please contact the program supervisor to discuss.
Outdoor Visits on CLASS Property
You are welcome to continue visiting at CLASS, staff will no longer need to be at the visit, and we ask that you continue to follow all safety practices.
1. Plan ahead. Visits must be booked with the SSW or supervisor at a designated time and location.
a. Keep it small. No more than two visitors at a time.
b. Keep it simple. Work with the team to determine what type of visit is right for you:
2. Participate in ‘Active Screening’ – you will be asked to complete a COVID-19 screen prior to visiting. If you do not have access to filling out the form, a CLASS staff will contact you prior to your visit and complete the form with you. You must be screened prior to the visit occurring.
Use this link to complete the screen:
3. We will ask you to reschedule your visit if any of the following are true for you:
• Fever (37.8 of higher)
• Sore throat
• Diagnosed with COVID-19
• Exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
• Travelled outside of Ontario in the last 14 days
• Have been advised by Public Health to self-isolate
• Have had a positive COVID-19 test in the last 14 days.
4. If you can maintain physical distancing of 6 feet a mask is not required when outside.
5. Please follow all hand hygiene practices.
6. Bring a gift/food…if you want. The gift of your time and company is most important.
7. Please note: There is no access to washroom at the visit sites.
Be flexible. For reasons such as illness or bad weather…or other extenuating circumstances at the manager’s discretion, the visit may need to be rescheduled. Please be gracious with us as we reschedule your visit as soon as we are able!
Below are some links on how to wear and remove non-medical masks or face-covering and proper hand hygiene:
• Public Health Ontario advice on non-medical masks/face coverings
• Government of Ontario website for Face Coverings and Face Masks
• Health Canada: How to wear a non-medical mask or face covering properly (video)
CLASS will continue to take a slower approach to the new stages to keep the people we support, our staff and community safe.
As of this past Monday everyone is now required to wear a face covering in all indoor publicly accessible spaces (businesses, organizations and public transit systems) in Simcoe County. Read more below under Covid news.