Ottawa Public Health says it is aware of positive cases of COVID-19 at five schools in the city; however, the source of each of the infections is not the schools themselves.

In a statement to CTV News, OPH says it is aware of individuals at the following schools who have tested positive for COVID-19:

  • 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

All of the schools are in the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE). The CECCE did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. Classes resumed at many CECCE schools on Sept. 3, though secondary students in the board's Ottawa high schools aren't set to return until Sept. 8.

"OPH is working closely with the school principals to investigate and reaching out to close contacts directly to provide direction on isolation and instruction on testing, including information on how and when to get tested for COVID-19," the statement said. "Further details about the individuals who tested positive cannot be shared to protect the personal health information of those involved."

No outbreaks have been declared. An outbreak in a school is defined officially as two positive COVID-19 cases with a proven link between them; in other words, an outbreak is declared at a school when COVID-19 is transmitted within the school community. So far, there is no evidence of that within any schools in Ottawa.

In a letter to parents and guardians of students at Laurier-Carrière dated Sept. 6, obtained by CTV News, OPH said it is working with the school to "review and confirm important practices to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19" such as screening children and staff before going to school, staying home when sick, and other pandemic control measures.

"We recognize that receiving this information may be stressful and want to ensure you understand the process going forward," OPH said in the letter.

The public health unit then described the process by which COVID-19 cases in schools are reported to families and close contacts.

"As part of its case and contact management process, OPH contacts every resident who receives a positive COVID-19 test to identify locations they may have visited while contagious, obtain a list of any people they have interacted with, and provide them with information on measures needed to prevent any further spread of infection," OPH said. "In a school setting, OPH also works with the school to identify cohorts of students and staff who may have been in close contact with the person at school or school transportation, if applicable."

OPH stresses that if you do not receive a call directly from the health unit, then you or your child are not considered close contacts and there is no need to be tested unless symptoms of COVID-19 are present.

OPH said a similar letter would have been sent to staff and families of the other schools affected.