We are writing to families today sharing specific concerns related to the Novel Coronavirus and are seeking your support as members of our community. We understand that students and their families are feeling some anxiety regarding the Novel Coronavirus.
We want to assure you that we are taking advice from internationally renowned Public Health authorities at the Federal, Provincial, and Regional levels of government. Their unanimous message is that the monitoring and treatment protocols in place are fully capable of managing this emerging situation. We are following the advice and direction of Public Health, who have clearly stated that the risk to Canadians is low and no additional measures in schools are needed at this time. This means students and staff members who are not feeling ill may attend school and should not wear medical masks.
The advice of Medical Officers of Health is consistent for all our students and families:
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, if you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
Stay home if you are ill.
As a school board we pride ourselves on our diversity, and we continue to see this a source of great strength. In York Region, our East Asian Chinese community is diverse with origins that are not limited to mainland China. We have East Asian Chinese with origins in Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, and many other countries throughout the world.
While the virus can be traced to a province in China, we have to be cautious that this not be seen as a Chinese virus. Those who are afflicted or are potential transmitters are not just people of Chinese origin. The virus has appeared in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada. At times such as this, we must come together as Canadians and avoid any hint of xenophobia, which in this case can victimize our East Asian Chinese community and we must rely on our shared values of equity and inclusivity.
We are aware of an escalated level of concern and anxiety among families of Chinese heritage. Situations such as these can regrettably give rise to discrimination based on perceptions, stereotypes and hate. Individuals who make assumptions, even with positive intentions of safety, about the risk of others, request or demand quarantine can be seen as demonstrating bias and racism.
York Region District School Board works to ensure our classrooms and workplaces are safe and caring for all students and staff. It’s important that we not make assumptions about students or staff based on their race or travel history.
Thank you for ensuring that our classrooms and workplaces are safe and uphold the values of our Board.
Louise Sirisko, Director of Education and
Juanita Nathan, Board Chair