On Nov. 30, public health officials in the Waterloo Region of Ontario issued an order to close all Old Order, Markham, Old Colony (Low German speaking) and David Martin Mennonite churches and schools due to significant community spread of COVID-19 in the northern portions of Wellesley and Woolwich townships. More than 200 new cases of the virus were confirmed in community members in the previous three weeks, according to a CBC news report on Dec. 4. The order, issued by Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, medical officer of health for the region, also limits social gatherings, weddings and funerals to members of the immediate household only. “Rapid rise in cases in the Mennonite community is concerning, and public health is working with community leaders to ensure people follow the rules,” she said in a CBC news story posted on Nov. 30, noting that public health had “encountered insufficient cooperation” among some members of the Mennonite community. Health officials also closed Linwood Public School in Wellesley Township for at least two weeks as a precautionary measure after community transmission of the virus contributed to climbing absentee rates in the rural school which serves a large population of David Martin and Low German Mennonite students.
—Story and Photo by Janet Bauman
This meetinghouse in Elmira, Ont., used by Old Order and Markham Mennonites, has been closed by public health officials, along with other churches and schools in the rural Mennonite communities where there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases.