Hamilton school boards report 22 COVID cases in first week after return to remote learning

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Hamilton’s public and Catholic school boards reported 22 COVID-19 cases and one new outbreak last week.

School boards reported 112 cases of the virus the previous week.

As of April 19, Hamilton students — with the exception of some special needs learners — are again learning remotely after the province closed Ontario schools to in-person learning.

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, which has a student population of approximately 50,000, reported 18 probable and confirmed cases — 17 students and one staff — between April 19 and 25, the first week of the current round of remote learning.

In the same week, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, which has a student population of approximately 29,000, reported four confirmed and probable cases of the virus — three students and one staff.

HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop said last week’s cases could be both from special education students learning in person and from students who have since moved to remote learning.

“The cases from last week are not necessarily all from in-person learning,” he said. “Their periods of communicability, where applicable, would still have been during the time when the case was in school.”

Since the beginning of April, Hamilton boards have reported 335 cases — 210 in the public board and 125 at the Catholic board.

A new outbreak declared April 21 at Dundas Central Elementary School was declared over two days later on April 23.

The previous week, outbreaks at four schools began and ended the same week.

Hamilton public health told The Spectator delays in testing for cases that cropped up before spring break can impact when an outbreak is declared.

Since the Feb. 8 return to the classroom, there have been 41 outbreaks at Hamilton schools. As of Monday, there are no ongoing outbreaks.

Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator