Ottawa schools not overrun with COVID-19, data suggest


Data on the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa schools suggest that the school system has not been overrun with the virus. looked at figures provided by several sources, including school boards, Ottawa Public Health and the Ontario government, to determine how many COVID-19 cases in Ottawa so far this fall have involved schools.

Across Ottawa's four school boards—The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) and the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO)—there have been 343 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 130 schools as of Oct. 16, based on the data we compiled. This total involves both students and staff. At least 176 cases are considered resolved.

In the period of Sept. 5 to Oct. 16, Ottawa Public Health reported 2,877 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

This means roughly 12 per cent of all cases reported in Ottawa during that time have involved someone either attending or working at a publicly-funded school in Ottawa. It should be noted, however, that it is unclear how many infections reported by school boards may have led to others outside of the school system.

An estimated 200,000 people—or about 20 per cent of the city's population—work at or attend Ottawa schools, meaning the proportion of cases reported in schools is lower than would be expected based on the population.

While it is unclear exactly how many of these infections may have occurred within a school setting, Ottawa Public Health has reported 24 outbreaks in schools in the four school boards. These outbreaks account for 58 student cases and 46 staff cases as of OPH's most recent reporting.

Of the 24 outbreaks reported by OPH, eight are currently active.

Outbreaks have also been reported at two private schools: Abraar Elementary School (1 student and 6 staff, still active) and Lycée Claudel (2 students, resolved).

Under provincial guidelines, a COVID-19 outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school (including transportation and before or after school care).


Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

The OCDSB reported 57 active COVID-19 cases in students and 12 active cases in staff, as of Oct. 16. Twenty-four student cases and one staff case are considered resolved.

54 of the OCDSB's 143 schools have had at least one case.

Ottawa Catholic School Board

According to the most recent data from the Ontario government, there has been a total of 61 cases of COVID-19 in 21 of the 89 schools in the OCSB, affecting 55 students and six staff.

The board says there are 39 active student cases and six active staff cases of COVID-19 affecting 23 schools as of Oct. 17. These figures, however, do not take into account resolved cases and include additional cases reported after Oct. 16.

Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est

The CECCE reported 24 active and 110 resolved cases of COVID-19 on Friday, among 39 of its 52 schools.

The CECCE's public reporting does not differentiate between staff and student cases. Data from the Ontario government's COVID-19 in schools page, which includes some but not all of the cases reported by the CECCE, suggest more students than staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

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

The CEPEO reported 11 active cases of COVID-19 in students and two active cases in staff on Oct. 16. Forty-one additional cases in staff and students are considered resolved.

Sixteen of the board's 43 schools have reported at least one case of COVID-19.


The Ontario government's page tracking COVID-19 cases in schools uses data that were reported to the Ministry of Education as of Sept. 5. The page was last updated Oct. 16. This analysis looks at all new COVID-19 cases reported by Ottawa Public Health from Sept. 5 to Oct. 16. This analysis also uses figures provided by the school boards, whenever possible, versus data on the Ontario government's COVID-19 cases in schools page, as school board data is typically more current than provincial data. The exception to this is the Ottawa Catholic School Board, which does not list resolved cases of COVID-19 on its public reporting page. Therefore, data from the Ontario government was used for determining the total number of cases involving schools in the OCSB since Sept. 5.

Figures from Ottawa Public Health are taken from the health unit's COVID-19 dashboard, which updates daily at 12:30 p.m.