No school-related outbreak connected to P.E.I.'s latest COVID-19 cases

·3 min read
'We know how disruptive isolation is for students and parents,' Dr. Heather Morrison said at a briefing Monday. (CBC - image credit)
'We know how disruptive isolation is for students and parents,' Dr. Heather Morrison said at a briefing Monday. (CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced Monday that there is no school-related COVID-19 outbreak connected to the Island's four latest cases.

The four cases announced Sunday are two children under the age of 12 and two people in their 30s, all members of the same household who recently travelled off-Island.

Morrison said at Monday's briefing that based on initial test results, these are isolated cases at Westwood Primary and Eliot River Elementary.

Both schools will reopen Tuesday.

55 close contacts

The CPHO has identified 55 close contacts of the four cases, said Morrison, and they have all been contacted and advised to get tested.

Children who travelled to or from Westwood Primary on Bus 81 on Wednesday Nov. 3 are not considered close contacts.

Those children are being asked to get tested today and then monitor for symptoms until next Wednesday.

Morrison also announced a new daily testing protocol for asymptomatic close contacts of school-related cases.

Morrison said the protocol is an alternative approach that will allow kids to keep attending school as long as they don't have symptoms of COVID-19.

The whole team inhales and holds our breath when we get the call about this type of case. I am certainly hopeful there won't be further spread of these cases in this school. - Dr. Heather Morrison

"It's important when we look at the risks. We know how disruptive isolation is for students and parents," she said.

"We know in this situation it's already day five from the exposure, or potential exposure, so a negative PCR is reassuring. We also know the cases were asymptomatic, it was one day, we know where the exposure happened and they know the source. It's important for those young children that can't be vaccinated, that we do everything we can to keep their routine in place.

"If we can reduce the risk and be comfortable with this testing protocol, it's less disruptive for society as well ... We will see how it works. I think it's a good protocol as an alternative in this situation."

The new protocol

To be eligible for the protocol, a child needs to have been exposed to COVID-19 at school and have at least one negative PCR test.

These contacts will then be tested each morning before attending school, using a rapid antigen test.

They must have a negative result prior to going to school or participating in extracurricular activities. That negative test must be verified by school staff.

Close contacts must have one additional PCR test on November 12 or 13, said Morrison, and then resume daily antigen tests until Nov. 17, including days with no school.

Parents and guardians can pick up the rapid antigen test kits at their child's school before 6 p.m. Monday.

If a child tests positive on a rapid test, they should self-isolate with a parent or guardian until they can get a lab-based PCR test, and should isolate until they have a negative PCR test, said Morrison.

Morrison said she's feeling "cautiously optimistic" about the fact that there is no school-related outbreak right now.

"The whole team inhales and holds our breath when we get the call about this type of case. I am certainly hopeful there won't be further spread of these cases in this school," she said.

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