Starting December 6, the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) and Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) will once again allow sports teams and clubs to use their facilities outside of learning hours. Local health units and legal liability have prevented this since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but restrictions are easing and the liability issues have been solved, so teams and clubs can once again meet outside school hours.
To use the facilities outside school hours, anyone 12 years or older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the UCDSB will allow anyone 11 years or younger to enter, even if not fully vaccinated. The executive superintendent of business services at the UCDSB, Jeremy Hobbs, said they didn’t see a reason to exclude those younger students. Anyone that age would have been there only a few hours before for class, and health units didn’t provide any other reason to exclude them.
“They felt we were already going above and beyond what the requirements were and felt comfortable with the protocols in place,” said Hobbs.
This is not the case for the CDSBEO yet, but associate director of education Bonnie Norton said that the board hopes this will change soon, as students 5-to-11 continue to get vaccinated.
“It’s our goal that very early in the new year we will be able to expand use to the younger kids that are undergoing the opportunity to be vaccinated right now,” Norton said.
Only groups or organizations that have previously booked facilities with the boards will be able to use them now. Both school boards are hoping to prevent those from outside communities from using their facilities, a measure they feel will help curb the spread of the virus.
Bookings opened at 8 a.m. on the day of the announcement, and people were quick to reserve their spot. The UCDSB received 70 applications by the next afternoon, which only highlights how excited people are to get back to a normal club schedule.