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Thunder Bay school boards will notify parents if they are informed of positive COVID tests

Parents will receive an email if another parent or staff member voluntarily discloses a positive test result.
St. Vincent School COVID 4
Students at Thunder Bay's St. Vincent School wear masks in the classroom to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. (submitted photo)

THUNDER BAY — Lakehead Public Schools and the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board will inform parents of any positive COVID-19 cases in their children's school that they are made aware of voluntarily.

Some other Ontario school boards also plan to go beyond the province's new requirements for notifying parents.

The two Thunder Bay boards made their announcement Wednesday despite the government's recent decision to have public health authorities only reach out to families when a school's absence rate reaches 30 per cent.

In letters to parents, the boards said families will be emailed whenever a school is notified by a parent or a staff member about a positive COVID-19 test from a Rapid Antigen Test or a PCR test.

They emphasized that informing a school of a student or staff member's test result is voluntary.

In its letter, the Catholic board included a reminder that public health authorities say most school contacts are not considered high-risk, and only need to self-isolate if they show symptoms or fail the screening tool.

A spokesperson for the Thunder Bay Catholic board was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but the board indicated this will be a "short-term" measure.

Tom D'Amico, director of education for the Ottawa Catholic board, said it's helpful to keep families informed.

"We know the student will no longer be in the class. They'll be removed for [at least] five days or until their symptoms are gone, so the risk level is gone. But it will help parents be assured about what level of COVID is present in the class," D'Amico told CTV Morning Live.

Under the province's previous guidelines, parents were informed when a student in their child's classroom tested positive, and members of the exposed cohort would go into isolation for 10 days.

The revised guidance from the government – made public last week – states "Given the widespread transmission and inability to test all symptomatic individuals, schools will not be routinely notifying students/pupils in classes with a positive case, or if a child/student or staff is absent due to symptoms associated with COVID-19.”

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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