First school COVID case this year prompts concerns; WECHU wants to keep in-person learning

Some Amherstburg parents and students are slightly more worried after a COVID-19 case was already reported at a local elementary school in the first week back to class..

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board dismissed 57 students from Stella Maris Catholic Elementary School in Amherstburg after receiving notification from the health unit of a confirmed case of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The WECDSB says 26 students were from one class, and the other 31 were from a bus cohort.

Student Marissa Lucas says she is “somewhat worried” because some of the kids sent home were in her class but says she is comfortable being in school.

“I’m double vaccinated and I know that everything is gonna to be ok,” she says.

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit CEO Nicole Dupuis says protocols and guidance for dismissal are mostly the same as last year, except this year there is an assessment of vaccination status.

“It potentially can change the duration if individuals have to isolate,” says Dupuis.

PROVINCIAL GUIDANCE FOR COVID CASES IN SCHOOLS

The Ontario government released “COVID-19 Guidance: School Case, Contact and Outbreak Management,” on Aug. 11, stating that individuals who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic are not required to isolate after a high-risk exposure to the virus.

Therefore, they would not need to be dismissed from school.

In addition, household members who live with a student that has been exposed to the virus do not need to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated.

Those who are not fully immunized and were exposed to COVID-19 as a high-risk contact must isolate for 10 days. The guidelines indicate testing is recommended on day seven of their isolation period and the isolation should begin on the last day of the known exposure.

If a cohort contains students who are not vaccinated, or the immunization coverage is unknown, individual Public Health Units can choose to dismiss the cohort entirely.

Amherstburg parent Rachel Taylor says she is “a little uncomfortable still with our son going to school” because he is under the age of 12 and not yet eligible to receive a vaccine.

Another parent Lori Ouellette, says she is confident the right protocols are in place.

“My kids are coming back to school today,” says Ouellette. “I’m bringing them back. I’m confident the school is doing everything they can to minimize contact with keeping cohorts together and keeping spread hopefully to a minimum”.

WILL SCHOOLS BE FORCED TO CLOSE TO IN-PERSON LEARNING?

Something else on parents minds is how long schools will remain open for in-person learning this year.

“It’ll probably be happening everywhere so we’ll see if the schools s close back down or not,” said parent Josh Kay.

Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says it’s possible for classes to have to go back online, but “definitely something that none of us want.”

“At this time we’re not contemplating that, we’re hoping that things will continue to improve in the community, in the school system to get the best education possible.

With files from CTV Windsor's Bob Bellacicco and CTVNewsToronto.ca.