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May. 28, 2022 | Saturday
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Top doctor says rules are needed at Virgil alternative school
Two classrooms in the old Virgil school are being rented out to the Niagara Alternative Learning Alliance. (Evan Saunders)

Niagara's acting medical officer of health says a learning pod in Virgil needs to be classified to determine exactly what rules apply to it, noting some child care and schooling facilities have different COVID protocols to follow than others.

But Dr. Mustafa Hirji said there will be regulations.

“There’s unfortunately no opportunity to be something that operates without any sort of rules right now. Whatever it is, there’s going to be some sort of set of rules. It’s just a matter of how do they classify themselves and how do we think they should be (classified)," Hirji said in an interview Wednesday.

“Whenever you have people who are coming together in an indoor space, that is a risk of COVID-19 spreading and we need to have protocols in place to limit that,” he said.

Hirji said he is sympathetic to claims the pod was set up to provide more reliable schooling amid COVID-19 closures.

“I think there is evidence to support that children really did suffer with the closure of schools and the disruption of their ability to get that education.”

“We just need to make sure it’s done in a way that is going to protect those children and in line with the current provincial law.”

Hirji said the pod should have consulted with the Region of Niagara before opening its doors.

“Our advice is always, if you are starting any kind of operation in Niagara, it’s good to speak with us in public health to get our advice and speak to your local bylaw office to make sure you have everything in place,” he said.

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