Outbreak at Innisfil school that infected 22 is 'under control,' but not over, SMDHU says
The COVID-19 outbreak at an Innisfil elementary school has infected 22 individuals and impacted nearly half of the school's classes.
The health unit declared the region's largest school outbreak at Holy Cross Catholic School on Oct. 15.
Days later, a letter sent to parents from the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board stated that it was following the guidance of the health unit, and the school would remain open.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said there are "many factors involved when considering closing a school."
SMDHU associate medical officer of health, Dr. Colin Lee, added that "at this time, we believe the outbreak is under control and [the school] does not need to be closed."
Lee pointed to the sheer size of the student body as one of those factors for keeping the doors open to in-person learning.
Holy Cross has 650 students and 28 classes.
He noted that, overall, "the transmission of COVID-19 in schools and childcare facilities across Simcoe Muskoka has been low."
The health unit mentioned health measures, such as daily screening, masking, hand sanitizing and disinfection within schools as helping to prevent transmission.
PARENTS REMAIN CONCERNED
Still, parents remain concerned about the situation that the health unit says is "under control" Wednesday.
"It's kind of scary," said parent Patrick Davis. "As parents, you want to know what's going on in the school."
The health unit confirms only a few classrooms are currently affected by the outbreak.
"At this time, only three classrooms are excluded while the rest have been able to return to in-person schooling," Lee said.
At various times over the past two weeks, the health unit requested students and staff in a dozen classrooms get tested for COVID-19.
Lee said most of the positive cases resulted from "transmission in the community, at home, within a class cohort or shared school bus and therefore traceable."
OTHER SCHOOL OUTBREAKS
A recently ended outbreak at a Bradford elementary school infected more than 20 students and impacted several classes.
In that case, the health unit maintained that attending the school was safe with all the protocols in place.
The outbreak was declared over 20 days later.
Along with Holy Cross, three other schools have outbreaks.
Portage View Elementary School has two cases, and Assiskinack Public School has three. Both schools are in Barrie.
Additionally, the health unit declared an outbreak at Monck Public School in Bracebridge on Monday, with two confirmed cases.
DECLARING AN OUTBREAK
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit declares an outbreak at a school when two or more positive cases are lab-confirmed, and the individuals have shared a space or objects.
The cases also have to have occurred within 14 days to support transmission within the school environment.
The health unit may recommend sending the infected students or students within an infected cohort home for 10 days following the last contact with the positive case.
Public health will suggest increased cleaning and limited activities at a school with an outbreak to contain transmission.
Staff and students with no symptoms who are contacts of positive cases will likely be tested for COVID-19.
The health unit determines who is at risk and provides information to only those it deems necessary.