C-K sees increase in COVID-19 cases

·2 min read

After going weeks of avoiding COVID-19, Chatham Kent has seen an increase in cases within the community.

As of Thursday, Oct. 22, there were 14 cases, including five schools sending students home, undertaking extensive contract tracing. According to Dr. David Colby, Chatham Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, it was only a matter of time until the community saw more cases.

“It was inevitable we would get more, and I said that all the way through our quiet time,” said. Colby.

The community’s “quiet time” came to an end when dozens of students were exposed to COVID-19 cases in the community.

Five of the cases were exposed through an outbreak at a local church, five are a close contact of a case, and two were exposed at a workplace outbreak. It is unknown how the other two were exposed.

Letters were sent home by the School Board advising the student was potentially exposed and will need to isolate for 14 days.

According to Colby, the steps being taken are positive signs of the existing protocols work.

“The isolations that have taken place are precautionary, and we believe they have been very successful,” said Colby. “This is a success story, although it does create some consternation from everyone. Nevertheless, it’s easier in a school environment because of all this work we’ve done to organize all these cohorts.”

Although affected, the following schools are not in an outbreak and are still open:

- Ursuline College, Chatham

- Tecumseh Public School, Chatham

- Harwich Raleigh Public School, Blenheim

- Blenheim District High School, Blenheim

- St. Anne Catholic School, Blenheim

John Howitt, Director of Education at the Lambton Kent District School Board, said there is an opportunity to capitalize on a teachable moment of emphasizing the need and the benefits of protocols.

“One of my concerns that was looming was that complacency might start to invade our schools,” said Howitt. “If there’s any silver lining to what we’re dealing with now, they’re concrete examples of why vigilance needs to continue.”

Deb Crawford, Director of Education at the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, this is not a school-based transmission.

“It’s not a school outbreak,” said Crawford. “I think that needs to be more strongly communicated across our schools and our families to give them the context in which we’re working right now.”

Colby reminded concerned parents there is no community spread in Chatham-Kent. He said if they are not directly contacted by public health, their child is not at risk of being a close contact.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News