Both of Hamilton’s public school boards have reported their first COVID-19 outbreaks since the February return to in-person classes.
On Wednesday night, the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) said there is an outbreak involving two students at A.M. Cunningham Elementary School in the city’s east end. The students are now self-isolating for 14 days.
The HWDSB has recorded 21 total COVID-19 cases since early February, reporting a single case the first week of the month, nine last week and seven this week.
The list includes 15 student and three staff cases from 16 different schools. There are two cases among remote learning students and one e-learning pupil.
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Meanwhile, the outbreak with the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) is also with an elementary school — St. Teresa of Avila — in the city’s west end.
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The school has five cases involving four staff and one student.
The HWCDSB has had nine cases from six different schools in the first three weeks of its return involving five staff, three students and one third party.
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Both boards have started contact-tracing investigations to find close contacts.
Students, staff or cohorts required to quarantine will be notified by Hamilton Public Health by Friday, according to both boards.
In line with the province’s outbreak management protocol, the outbreaks are expected to be declared over in the first 14 days with no evidence of ongoing transmission.
The outbreaks come just days after Hamilton’s first-ever “targeted” rapid COVID-19 tests for staff and students at a pair of clinics on the weekend turned up no positive cases.
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On Tuesday, the province said it would be making a push for more voluntary COVID-19 testing in schools, advising some of the larger boards that at least five per cent of their elementary and secondary schools will need to be tested weekly.
The ministry has set a start date of Feb. 22 for school boards outside of Toronto, York and Peel to offer either a rapid antigen and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
The boards are being asked to prioritize schools in areas of high transmission, high case numbers and where access to current testing programs may be challenging.
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