Outbreak declared at Cambridge Catholic school two days after second reported case in class

·2 min read

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at a Cambridge Catholic school two days after a second reported case with a student in the same classroom at the school.

The classroom at St. Michael Catholic Elementary School was declared in outbreak on March 25, after a second positive COVID-19 case in the class was reported on March 23. The first case, with a student, was reported March 20.

A post on the school's website states "No additional classrooms or cohorts will be dismissed. No further action is required for the current classroom that has been dismissed."

John Shewchuk, chief managing officer at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, said the time between the reported outbreak and the second case comes with public health investigating how the second-case person may have become infected.

"An outbreak is only declared once public health is satisfied that the second case was contracted within the school from close contact with the first case," Shewchuk said.

"We have had situations where there have been two cases in the same classroom that were completely unrelated to one another, therefore not meeting the definition of an outbreak. This is why the very detailed and methodical contact tracing that happens with cases takes time."

Other schools have reported having issues with contact tracing when looking for high-risk contacts for COVID-19 cases.

St. Anne Catholic Elementary School has had four positive cases this month, the most recent on March 25, and made a post on its website about the difficulty with contact tracing bus students.

The post stated while the school was going through contact tracing on two of its buses, they learned some students were taking the bus and finding another way to return home.

"We are required to submit a seating plan to public health for contact tracking and precious time is wasted calling out to families who do not ride the bus," the post stated.

"If you qualify for the bus, but you have no plans to ride, you are required to fill out a Do not Ride form.

"This will help with more efficient route planning and contact tracing when we have a positive case."

Bill Doucet, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times