It was back to school, again, for a group of students at Stella Maris Catholic Elementary School in Amherstburg following the board’s first confirmed COVID-19 case earlier this month.

On Monday, a group of about 20 students returned to the school following a two-week isolation period after the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) reported a classmate in the cohort tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The group of students was met with a presentation led by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) this afternoon.

“The presentation focused in on supporting one another and creating that culture of kindness and caring within the school community,” said Melissa Farrand, the superintendent of education and COVID lead at the WECDSB.

The presentation was meant to help inform students of the best safety practices concerning COVID-19 and to tackle the stigma associated with the virus.

The team included the board’s psychologist, a child and youth worker and a mental health consultant as well as a public health nurse from the WECHU.

“It was important to mention, and they did so this afternoon, that this virus is really non-discriminatory,” said Farrand. “It could happen to anyone. It’s in our community and it’s really how we respond to that and we support one another throughout the process.”

It is the WECHU that works to investigate every case of COVID-19 and who’s lead the WECDSB takes.

According to Theresa Marentette, the CEO and Chief Nursing Officer for the health unit, after the 14-day isolation period, if the person who has tested positive for COVID-19 is asymptomatic, they are considered low-risk and there is no need for a negative test to return to school.

“If someone’s tested positive they’re to remain in isolation since the onset of their symptoms or the positive test and then they’re cleared by our health unit,” said Marentette. “That clearance does come through our nurses.”

The return to school appears to have largely been successful in Windsor-Essex thus far.

Including the case at Stella Maris, there has been no confirmed instance of COVID-19 being contracted or transmitted in the school setting between students or staff in Windsor-Essex.

Farrand assures parents and students who may still be anxious that the board is taking stringent measures to ensure schools remain safe.

“We’re confident in our procedures and protocols and in the event that another case were to arise, we’re confident that we can address it appropriately,” said Farrand.