Ottawa's top doctor says 190 students and fewer than 10 teachers are self-isolating out of an abundance of caution after COVID-19 cases were found in individuals linked to five schools in Ottawa.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches says these COVID-19 cases did not occur at any of the schools.

The reason so many students are isolating is because OPH has chosen to have entire busloads stay home and monitor for symptoms.

"We’re just being cautious using the whole bus because we don’t yet have all the confidence that people know how to stay to their assigned seat," Dr. Etches said. "We can avoid having to send so many children home if people really stick to those assigned seats and we have a process to make sure that’s happening."

Cases were confirmed in individuals who either attend or work at five schools in the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE). Ottawa Public Health did not identify whether the cases were in staff or students, citing medical privacy.

The affected schools are:

  • Laurier-Carrière catholic elementary school;
  • Sainte Anne catholic elementary school;
  • Saint François d'Assise catholic elementary school;
  • Roger-Saint-Denis catholic elementary school; and
  • Collège catholique Franco-Ouest high school

The CECCE began classes for some students on Sept. 3, with high school students in Ottawa returning Tuesday.

These are the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in students or staff of newly reopened schools since the start of the 2020-2021 school year. There are extensive guidelines for schools, school boards, and the public health unit to follow in the event of any cases at school.

None of the cases reported at the five schools in Ottawa this week have resulted in any proven transmission within the schools and there are no outbreaks at any schools in Ottawa.

An outbreak will be declared in a school only when there is proven transmission of COVID-19 from one person in the school to at least one other person in the school. Whether schools must close or classroom cohorts must isolate is up to Ottawa Public Health.