Barrie school, church proactively close amid rising COVID-19 infections
A private academy and church in Barrie are closed after more than two dozen confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Pastor Brett Pennell said the Church proactively decided to close the Heritage Christian Academy and Heritage Baptist Church once cases were confirmed last week.
"As soon as we got word of any cases, we moved the school to online," Pennell said. "We sent everybody home that day, just immediately switched to online learning to try to limit spread as much as possible."
Despite the church not being in an outbreak, services also moved online because the two facilities are in close proximity, and Pennell said there is the possibility of cross-contamination, as many with the school are also members of the congregation.
Pennell, the church's senior pastor and school principal, said the health unit never instructed the facilities to close, but he said they took the extreme measure to ensure everyone's safety.
"We made these determinations ourselves for the best interests for the health and wellbeing of the church community," he added.
The school student population is roughly 110, and the health unit reports 25 individuals have now contracted COVID-19.
The pastor noted they are working closely with the health unit.
On Friday, the Simcoe Muskoka health unit reported 32 active COVID-19 outbreaks across the region, including 23 in schools.