THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay District Health Unit says strict new protocols are now in place at local schools.
Under Ontario's latest COVID-19 screening protocol for schools, if any member of a household shows even one symptom, everyone in the household must self-isolate until a negative test result is received or an alternate diagnosis is given by a health-care professional.
If a test isn't conducted or an alternate diagnosis is not given, a symptomatic individual must self-isolate for 10 days and all other household members must do so for two full weeks from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.
If any member of a household is considered a high-risk contact, students in the household are not to attend class in person during the risk period and parents or guardians must work with the school to determine alternative options.
Parents are also being told not to allow any children to have any contact with others outside of their household, the exceptions being in-school contact and daycare.
“This is not the time for any in-person get-togethers, including birthday parties, having others over for dinner and having sleep-overs. The virus spreading among children who are together outside of school can have a big impact on classes, schools and other families,” said Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
DeMille said she understands the measures can be challenging and they will impose further burdens on parents and households.
“I do not take writing this letter and providing these instructions lightly,” DeMille said, adding it will take a group effort to get through these challenging times.
The letter comes on a day when the public board pivoted Kingsway Park Public School and Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute to full virtual learning modes, with outbreaks declared at both schools.
A trio of cases was announced at St. James Public Schools, and cases were also announced at Pope John Paul II and Corpus Christi schools.
Students at McKellar Park Central School are returning to the classroom on Monday after clearing COVID-19 outbreak protocol.
Parents are being instructed to screen their children online every day and are not to send them to school if they do not pass the screening test. Students in grades 9 to 12 are required to verify upon arrival at school that they've passed the screening test.
DeMille also expressed worry about variants of concern that have arrived in other parts of Canada and have “been shown to spread quickly and easily.”