THUNDER BAY – The closure of St. Martin School has been extended by a week, after a COVID-19 outbreak there more than doubled in size Monday.
There are now 20 cases of the virus associated with the Westfort-area elementary school of about 550 students.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit said Monday evening it had been notified of 11 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, when it first announced the school would close to in-person learning.
All of the new involved people considered close contacts of the previously reported cases, the health unit said. That included students and staff associated with six different classroom cohorts (including childcare) and six buses.
In a letter to the school community from medical officer of health Dr. Janet DeMille, the health unit said the school would now remain closed until at least Monday, Nov. 29.
“This is a complex school outbreak as indicated by the number and timing of cases, exposures and impacted cohorts,” DeMille wrote. “This was deemed to be the best option to effectively manage and contain the outbreak while ensuring the safety of staff and students.”
Over 180 people associated with the school outside of the impacted cohorts, who were deemed to be at lower risk of exposure, participated in voluntary drive-through testing offered over the weekend.
"Overall, this is good news as it shows that there wasn’t broader exposure in the school setting outside of the cohorts currently identified," DeMille stated.
All of those results are so far negative for COVID-19, with a small number of results still pending, the health unit said.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on Nov. 15, while an outbreak was officially declared on Nov. 18.