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St. Martin school to re-open amid COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 outbreak at elementary school grows to 27 cases, but public health authorities say it's safe for many students to return Monday.
St. Martin School
St. Martin School will reopen to in-person learning on Monday. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY – A Thunder Bay elementary school is set to re-open on Monday despite an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, with health authorities saying the virus appears to be contained in a limited number of cohorts.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit revealed Friday that seven new COVID-19 cases had been detected at St. Martin School since its last update on Monday, bringing the total number of cases associated with the school to 27.

Class and bus cohorts impacted by those cases will remain at home until cleared to return by public health, while others can return Monday.

In a letter to the school community, medical officer of health Dr. Janet DeMille expressed confidence that it was safe to return to learning as planned on Monday, despite the newly reported cases.

“All the recent cases were from the impacted cohorts and can be linked to previous cases and all were isolating as per the instructions provided by public health,” she wrote. “No additional cohorts were identified as having had an exposure.”

Six class cohorts and six bus cohorts at the school had been impacted by the outbreak as of Monday, which DeMille said at the time comprised around half of the school’s roughly 550 students. The Schoolhouse Playcare Centre at the Westfort Catholic school was also impacted by the outbreak.

Pointing to rising case counts in the city, DeMille also urged parents to have eligible children five and up vaccinated to help prevent further spread of the virus, and associated school closures.

"It remains vital that we work together and all do our part in keeping the school safe," she said. "This is more important than ever before as case numbers are increasing in our area."

Information on COVID-19 vaccines and how to book appointments is available on the health unit's website.

The school community can expect additional communication in the coming days, the health unit advised.

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