In first public tally, Quebec says 47 schools have COVID-19 cases or outbreaks
After growing calls to do so, the Quebec government has released a list of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in schools.
(The list is posted below.)
The province tallied up 47 schools, both public and private, that have had at least one COVID-19 case.
The list was published at around 5:30 p.m. on Friday, a day after public health officials agreed to make the information available to the public.
Health Minister Christian Dube said earlier in the day that there were about 30 schools on the list, adding that it's mostly isolated cases reported in schools.
However, the final PDF document includes 47 names of schools. Six are private, and the rest are public.
That discrepancy may be explained by the dates listed on the document, which show that 18 of the institutions reported a COVID-19 case on Thursday alone.
The list doesn't include the number of known cases per school, simply listing the name of the school, the board or service centre that oversees it -- which helps indicate the region -- and the date the case was divulged.
The schools listed include preschool, elementary, secondary, as well as adult career centres. The infections were reported between Aug. 26 and Sept. 3.
Dube said Friday the numbers need to be put into context, given the thousands of different educational institutions in the province.
He said in general, Quebec's back-to-school plan has been successful. Dube also mentioned the COVID-19 infections in the list have come as a result of community transmission and not from within the schools.
Only two full outbreaks have been recorded, Dube had noted earlier. The province considers an outbreak to be two or more linked cases.
The first was in a high school near Montreal, where a symptom-free teacher who was unaware of being infected then infected colleagues even before the school year began, as staff prepared for classes.
The second outbreak has only two cases.
The decision to publish the official list came after parents called for more information and after one Montreal father began to publish his own list of affected schools on a homemade website, using information mostly crowd-sourced from other parents.
In statements released at the same time as the list, Dubé and Quebec's education minister both said they understand the need for public data.
"The government has always made it a point of honour, since the start of the pandemic, to be transparent...and that is why we will present daily data from cases reported in the all schools," Dubé said in his statement, adding that he hopes the lists will be a "tool" for Quebecers to get an up-to-date portrait of the situation.
"I would like to reiterate that although cases are confirmed, as we expected, the situation is still under control."
Education minister Jean-François Roberge said that "transparency and the free flow of information are essential."
He also urged parents to take all measures to prevent the virus from spreading.
"We must do everything to keep our schools open," he said. "We owe it to our children."
With files from The Canadian Press