One week into the school year and at least 208 students in the Windsor, Ont., area have been sent home from exposure to positive COVID-19 cases.
Four schools in the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) reported cases Friday and one of those reported a second case Sunday. In total, 148 students have been told not to return to class in the last three days.
This comes as COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex continue to rise, with 543 active cases and 17 people in hospital as of Friday. The region has one of the highest case rates in Ontario, according to provincial data.
Teen vaccination rates lag in Windsor-Essex, when compared to the rest of the province.
Of those 12 to 17 years old, only 55.4 per cent are fully vaccinated, based on data from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU). That's nearly 10 per cent below the vaccination rate for that age group across the province.
Schools with confirmed cases include:
Cardinal Carter Secondary School, with one student case and 39 students dismissed.
St. Pius X Catholic Elementary School with one student case and 27 students dismissed.
St. John de Brebeuf Catholic Elementary School, with one student case and 20 students dismissed.
St. Joseph's Catholic High School, with one student case, one staff case and 62 students dismissed.
The first school in the region to report a COVID-19 case was Stella Maris Catholic Elementary School on Wednesday. Fifty-seven students were sent home — one class and one bus cohort — after a single confirmed case.
All schools remain open, according to the WECDSB's website.
Meanwhile, the Greater Essex County District School Board had three confirmed cases from the first week of school.
According to the board's website, those cases are at:
Bellewood Public School, with one case.
W.F. Herman Academy Secondary, with one case.
Queen Victoria Public School, with one case.
The Greater Essex County District School Board does not specify how many students, if any, have been dismissed as a result of exposure to those three cases.
Cohort dismissal depends on vaccinations
According to provincial guidance, anyone who is asymptomatic and fully vaccinated — or who has been cleared after testing positive in the last 90 days — is generally not required to isolate following a high-risk exposure to a positive COVID case, and wouldn't need to be dismissed from school.
But if vaccination status is unknown, or there are people who are not immunized in the cohort, the local public health unit might decide to dismiss the entire cohort, to protect those who aren't vaccinated.
Once further assessed, part of the cohort may be allowed to return, says the document.
In cohorts with high immunization rates, "immediate dismissal of the whole cohort may not be necessary."
Instead the province says it may be enough to dismiss only those students who are not vaccinated, or who have not obtained natural immunity in the last 90 days.