COVID-19 outbreak at Grand Erie school board headquarters

·2 min read

Twelve schools in the Grand Erie District School Board have reported COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, and now the school board headquarters is the site of an outbreak.

The Brant County Health Unit declared an outbreak at the board’s Education Centre in Brantford on Dec. 25 after two lab-confirmed positive cases among the approximately 50 staff who work at the facility.

An employee at the board office tested positive on Dec. 18, followed by a second positive case.

GEDSB spokesperson Kim Newhouse said the health unit determined the cases were likely linked, prompting the outbreak declaration.

“These individuals have been directed by the health unit to self-isolate, along with any family members who reside in the same household,” Newhouse said.

Contact tracing for the second affected employee is underway, Newhouse added.

As of Dec. 21 — the last day the province updated its database listing COVID-19 cases in schools — 12 of the 72 Grand Erie schools in the city of Brantford and Brant, Haldimand, and Norfolk counties had reported a COVID-19 case within the previous two weeks.

There were nine Grand Erie schools with at least one student infected, two where a single staff member was infected, and one student and staff affected at McKinnon Park Secondary School in Caledonia.

Five Catholic schools in Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk counties had students with COVID-19 as of Dec. 21, while St. Mary Catholic Learning Day Centre in Brantford had one staff member off work due to the virus.

According to the provincial database, one in five Ontario schools — 976 of 4,828 — had reported at least one COVID-19 case as of the holiday break.

Ontario’s elementary schools will remain closed at least until Jan. 11 as part of the provincewide lockdown, with all students switching to online learning, while high school students will attend classes remotely until Jan. 25.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator