WINDSOR, ONT. -- Students will be able to participate in both indoor and outdoor extra-curricular activities, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccine status when school resumes in September, according to Ontario’s medical officer of health.

Dr. Kieran Moore made the announcement Wednesday, just a day after the province unveiled its back-to-school plan for September.

“We would like to allow broad based participation within those sports knowing that we want to have as close to return to normal as we can and have the benefit of the social, mental and physical well-being of our children,” Moore said.

Ontario’s top doctor said it was an omission in Tuesday’s plan, but after consulting with local public health units and sports leagues, he feels comfortable it will be possible, while managing risk.

Moore also noted a student’s ability to participate will not depend on their vaccine status.

“There shouldn’t be any barriers or stigmatization of children who have not received a vaccine in any way in normal activities throughout the school year,” said Moore.

WINDSOR-ESSEX BOARDS REVIEWING PLAN

It’s a plan that school boards are currently reviewing.

“We understand that extracurricular activities are an extremely important part of every child’s education. Whether it’s athletics, arts, or clubs, these activities play an essential role in their social development and in the promotion of positive mental health,” said Emelda Byrne, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board’s director of education in a statement.

She added that the board will “review and refine” those plans as it meets with the health unit over the coming weeks

“An essential part of that will be determining which extracurricular activities we can safely offer without encouraging the spread of COVID-19,” Byrne said.

The same goes for the public school board.

“We are in the process of developing plans for return to school based on recent ministry announcements and we will be seeking the advice of WECHU to ensure a safe return to in-person learning,” said public school board director of education Erin Kelly. “We will provide more details with respect to extra-curricular, ventilation, contact tracing etc. as we get additional information. We are excited to welcome our students back into our schools.”

WECHU MEETING WITH SCHOOL BOARDS

Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says he’s reviewed the plans and will continue to meet with school board officials over the next month.

“If the situation changes within our community we’ll have to adapt and update the plan accordingly, but at this point, I would anticipate that we will adopt the plan as presented,” said Ahmed.

He tells CTV News the best way to ensure a safe return to school is by getting vaccinated, especially those in the 12-17 age group, noting it’s also the best way to ensure in-person learning continues throughout the year.

“Let’s hope we don’t have to go back to another closure of the school system, but it is important to understand that could be a possibility, depending on how the fourth wave evolves here,” he said.