3 Ottawa elementary schools report COVID outbreaks

The schools wouldn't specify whether the outbreaks were among students or staff.

Ottawa Citizen 4 minute read September 15, 2021

Ottawa Public Health have declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at École élémentaire publique Michaëlle-Jean in Barrhaven. Errol McGihon / Postmedia

Three Ottawa elementary schools have partial outbreaks of COVID-19 as cases continue to rise, according to the city’s school boards.

The French-language Catholic school board reported “partial outbreaks” at De la Découverte and Marius-Barbeau elementary schools — located in Orléans and Ledbury, respectively — as of Wednesday morning. Each school reported two COVID-19 cases, although the board does not specify whether they are among students or staff.

There are 23 active cases of COVID-19 at that school board, causing 34 classes to be dismissed, according to the daily update from the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est.

At the French-language public school board, parents at Michaëlle-Jean elementary school in Barrhaven received a letter Wednesday morning saying that Ottawa Public Health had declared an outbreak among children riding a school bus.

As of Tuesday night, Michaëlle-Jean had six students with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, causing the closure of four classes.

An outbreak is declared when at least two people who are linked have contracted the virus and there is a reasonable chance it was transmitted at school.

The outbreak at Michaëlle-Jean was contained to people on a school bus, according to the letter sent to parents.

The number of students and staff with confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Ottawa schools continues to rise. Most of the cases are at the two French-language boards, where classes resumed earlier.

As of Tuesday night, 54 active cases of the disease had been identified at 36 schools in the four Ottawa-based boards. That’s up from a total of 43 active cases a day earlier.

However, most schools have only a single case, and the majority of schools have none. There are 328 schools at the four Ottawa boards.

Public health officials had warned to expect a surge of COVID-19 cases this fall as schools reopen and more people head indoors.

The province is already battling a fourth wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Ottawa schools have reopened with some of the same pandemic precautions that were in place last year, such as mask requirements, hand-washing and cohorting of elementary students, who eat lunch and have recess with their class.

In addition, students over age 12 are eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19, which is key in protecting schools from the virus.

But at the same time, the provincial back-to-school pandemic protocols have been relaxed to allow for a more normal school year, so there is more mixing among students, a return to full-time school for high school students and the possibility for extracurricular activities to return.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has said he is confident that the layers of protection in place will allow schools to remain open this year after the ping-pong education students experienced last year with multiple shifts to online learning at home.

The province resumed its daily update on COVID-19 cases in schools on Tuesday, reporting a total of 324 cases among students and staff reported in the last two weeks.

Across the province, 218 of 4,844 publicly funded elementary and secondary schools had at least one case of COVID-19 as of Tuesday. That represents 4.5 per cent of schools.

Most schools in the province reopened last week.

Here is the current COVID-19 case count at Ottawa school boards as of Sept. 14:

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Schools opened: Sept. 9

Active cases: 8

Schools with an active case: 8

Total number of schools: 143

Ottawa Catholic School Board

Schools opened: Sept. 7

Active cases: 9

Schools with an active case:  10

Total number of schools: 89

Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est

Schools opened: Aug. 31

Active cases: 24

Number of schools with an active case: 14

Total number of schools:58

Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario

Active cases: 14

Schools with an active case: 8

Total number of schools: 38