Toronto investigating first case of Omicron variant in a school

Toronto Public Health is investigating its first school case of the new Omicron variant in Scarborough.

Few details have been released, but officials say the case was identified at Precious Blood Catholic School, located near Lawrence and Pharmacy avenues.

It is not known if the case is in a student or a staff member.

Close contacts of the individual have been identified, officials said, and have been asked to self-isolate, check for symptoms and get a COVID-19 PCR test.

"Given the emergence of this new variant & the ongoing transmission of the Delta variant, it's more important than ever to get vaccination if you haven't already," Toronto Public Health said in a tweet. "We thank residents and our school communities for doing their part to keep each other safe."

Precious Blood Catholic School was closed to in-person learning in early November after 13 COVID-19 cases were identified. According to the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) at the time, 11 of the infections were among students and two were among staff.

Just under half were identified using take-home PCR tests.

The TCDSB website shows there is one active case in a student as of Dec. 3. The school remains open.

In a statement to CP24, the Toronto Catholic District School Board said they were informed of the investigation into a possible Omicron case Monday night.

“Students, staff, and any impacted individuals who may have been exposed have been asked to stay home and self-isolate. The school remains open,” TCDSB Spokesperson Shazia Vlahos said. “Students and staff who do not receive direction from TPH to self-isolate can continue to attend school based on the results of daily screening. We continue to work with TPH during this ongoing investigation.”

1/5: TPH is currently investigating TO's first school case of Omicron at Precious Blood Catholic School.

— Toronto Public Health (@TOPublicHealth) December 7, 2021

The news comes just hours after public health officials said they have declared an outbreak in six additional schools after two or more COVID-19 cases were identified and linked within those settings.

The six schools include Branksome Hall, Dewson Street Junior Public School, Michael Power Saint Joseph High, Holy Angels Catholic School, Maurice Cody Junior Public School and Prince of Peace Catholic School.

"We're carefully investigating and following our process of working w/our school community to notify close contacts & ask them to stay home, monitor for symptoms and get tested," officials said on social media.

As of Monday, Ontario officials have confirmed at least 13 cases of the Omicron variant in the province. One of those cases was reported in Toronto while three additional cases are in Durham, two are in Peel and one is in York.