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Medical officer of health issues statement ahead of homecoming weekend

Asking students to celebrate at home, or outdoors in small groups if they choose to celebrate in-person to help reduce the risk of COVID
Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's medical officer of health

Post-secondary students are an important and valued part of our community in Waterloo Region. This weekend, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Conestoga College will celebrate Homecoming. Homecoming is a time many look forward to, a chance for alumni and students alike to celebrate their school community and connect with friends.

Though COVID-19 has changed how we celebrate, there are many options to connect online. Protect yourself, your friends, and your community by celebrating homecoming weekend at home. If you choose to celebrate in-person, reduce your risk by choosing to celebrate outdoors, in small groups with people you trust, or indoors with only your immediate household members.

The Delta variant is the predominant strain of COVID-19 in our community and it continues to circulate. It is highly transmissible and will spread easily when given the opportunity. The risk of transmission increases when you are indoors (especially in spaces with poor ventilation) or in crowded places. The infectious period for COVID-19 can begin before you develop symptoms. This means you can unknowingly spread it to someone you have close contact with if you aren’t practicing public health measures like masking and/or physical distancing.

The vaccine is the most powerful measure we have to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19 and I want to thank each and every person who has gotten vaccinated. But no single measure on its own, including vaccination, is perfect at preventing the spread of COVID-19. I advise all residents of Waterloo Region to avoid closed spaces, crowded places, and limit your close contacts by continuing to wear a mask/face covering and practice physical distancing. In this fourth wave in Ontario, it is critical that we each keep practicing public health measures in addition to being fully vaccinated.

I know many of you are doing what you can to help protect one another. Each of you can make a difference. The fewer cases we have overall, the better we will be able to preserve health care capacity, keep schools and businesses open, and control new variants as they emerge, so your actions matter and truly impact our community at large. I wish you a safe, enjoyable (and physically distant) homecoming weekend and school year.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang (she/her)
Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health
Region of Waterloo Public Health & Emergency Services


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