Ontario elementary school closed due to COVID-19 outbreak
TORONTO -- A Courtice elementary school has been shut down today following an outbreak of COVID-19.
The Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board confirms that at least 11 cases have been tied to Monsignor Leo Cleary Catholic Elementary School since an outbreak was declared at the facility on Sept. 19.
“Due to the ongoing level of COVID-19 activity within the school and the number of staff and students who have been dismissed, the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board has made the decision in collaboration with DRHD (the Durham Region Health Department) to close the school to in-person learning effective immediately,” the board said in a letter sent to parents.
“This decision will prevent further spread of COVID-19 within the school setting.”
The school will be closed for at least two weeks and the board confirmed and all students will transition to remote learning during that time.
“DRHD is in the process of directly informing those identified as close contacts, who are required to self-isolate for 10 days from their last exposure to COVID-19,” the statement continued.
“Anyone else who attended the school between September 19 to September 24, 2021 are still considered at risk for exposure and should self-monitor for COVID-19 signs and symptoms for 10 days from their last day of attendance at the school.”
The school board is “strongly recommending” that all staff and students get tested for COVID-19.
According to the Durham Region Health Department's COVID-19 data tracker, there have been a total of 738 cases linked to schools or child-care centres in the region and 722 of those infections are considered to be resolved. The department said 16 cases are currently self-isolating at home.
One parent who spoke to CP24 outside the school said they were not provided with many specifics about the outbreak.
"They didn't give us any case counts. They just told us there is an exposure, an outbreak of the school," he said.
"We went through it last year. My wife was a little more upset because we have a baby at home and another one that's in daycare so the house is busy. But it is what it is."
About 181 students attend the school, which employes 20 staff members, but the board would not say how many cases involve students and how many involve staff.
Speaking to CP24 on Monday, Galen Eagle, a spokesperson for the school board, said Monsignor Leo Cleary Catholic Elementary School is only the second within the board that has closed due to COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic.
"Since the first outbreak, which was two confirmed cases with link in the school community, we've had a trickle of additional cases over the last week. On Friday, that case count hit 8 and at that point, given the size of the school community, the amount of students that were already dismissed as high-risk contacts, we began our conversations in fulsome with Durham public health to determine the best strategy forward," he said.
"It was ultimately a fairly easy decision to close the school... We thought that was the best way to prevent further spread in the school community."