Nine students in a class at the Louis-de-France school in Trois-Rivières were infected with the coronavirus after a child was infected with a positive case in the community.
The virus spread throughout the group despite the two-meter distance between each desk, hand washing and marking on the ground throughout the school. This outbreak illustrates the difficulties of preventing the spread of the virus in a primary school even if students and staff respect health rules as much as possible.
“My message to the public is not to lower your guard and to always be vigilant,” says Marie-Josée Godi, director of public health for Mauricie-et-Center-du-Québec.
Despite the gradual deconfinement, it is still important to respect physical distance, to wash your hands and to wear a mask in public places, she adds. However, students do not have to wear a mask to school, but school staff can wear a mask, gloves or visor if they deem it necessary.
Almost all of this Louis-de-France group, nine out of 11 or 12 students, according to Dr. Godi, was infected with the coronavirus. The class was closed until June 14 as a precaution. A staff member and another pupil from this 413 primary school (43% occupied this week, attendance is optional) were also infected with COVID-19.
The good news is that everyone infected with this school, students and staff, has mild symptoms and is in solitary confinement, said the regional director of public health. Infected children were even asymptomatic when they got their positive diagnosis.
Public Health decided to give a screening test to all the students in the class and to the staff who worked with the group. The situation is “under control” in the school, which remains open despite the closure of this infected class, said Marie-Josée Godi.
” [Lundi] evening, a complete disinfection of the Louis-de-France school was carried out by a specialized firm in order to minimize the risk of infections in this environment, “said the Chemin-du-Roy School Board on Tuesday.
Another encouraging sign, the outbreak was limited to one group, according to Dr. Godi. The other student who tested positive was infected with his family. This confirms the effectiveness of measures to prevent groups from crossing paths during the day, for example in the hallways or in the schoolyard.
“It was never believed that by reopening schools there would be no case. We have taken all the necessary measures. We relied on all the recommendations of Public Health and also of the CNESST [Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail] to have environments that are as healthy and safe as possible. We also work in class groups to […] that it is limited to a group, to a class and not to have a school-wide outbreak, “reacted the Minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, during a press briefing at Quebec.
“We see that right now, all things being relative, we have few cases, when we consider that there are hundreds of thousands of students in schools. […] There is nothing perfect, but it seems adequate, “added the Minister.
The coronavirus outbreak worries parents and staff, “but CNESST and public health guidelines are well applied in the community,” said Claudia Cousin, president of the Teaching Union of Old Forges.
“We keep an eye on the school to make sure the situation stays under control,” she said.
Another new case was reported at Jacques-Hétu school, also in Trois-Rivières, according to the local school board. Six other cases were reported last week at another elementary school in Trois-Rivières. According to the latest news, Quebec had registered 41 cases of COVID-19 in Quebec schools in just over two weeks.