Wakefield School reports first case of COVID-19
Ten days between possible exposure and letter to parents
By Stuart Benson
Wakefield School reported its first positive case of COVID-19 in a letter emailed to parents Sept. 7 warning of a possible exposure on Aug. 28.
According to Mike Dubeau, director-general of the Western Quebec School Board, public health contacted him late in the evening Sept. 6 to inform him that an employee of the school had tested positive for COVID-19.
“When there is a positive case, the director of public health contacts me personally,” Dubeau explained. “As soon as that happened we instituted our communications protocols.”
Dubeau said that Wakefield School Principal Julie Fram-Greig was contacted the following morning by the board and that both were contacted once again by public health to inform them of the risk and what contact tracing had been done.
Along with the school-wide email that was sent out by Fram-Greig on Sept. 7, public health also emailed a letter to parents who were in close contact with the employee and informed them that the risk of infection was “low,” and that there would be no need for their child to stay home. However, the letter did recommend that parents monitor their children for signs and symptoms of infection until Sept. 11.
Wakefield School had implemented a “staggered entry” for all grade levels for this school year, which meant only grades 5 and 6 were in attendance; grades 3 and 4 started classes on Aug. 31, grades 1 and 2 on Sept. 1, and all grades attended Sept. 2.
Parents expressed their anxiety on social media about the positive test at their school, many demanding to know why there was a ten-day delay between the potential exposure and notification to parents.
Dubeau explained that public health makes the determination of the risk based on the level of exposure the person involved had with other staff and students and that since the employee had been in self-isolation since Aug. 29, public health made the determination that the chances of infection were minimal. Any decision about whether a class or an entire school would be required to remain home would be one made by public health, and not by the school or the WQSB.
“The employee followed all of the protocols,” Dubeau said. “If you're sick, stay home, call the number and get tested.”
Dubeau added that due to issues of confidentiality, he could not disclose the identity or job title of the employee, nor was he privy to that information or even when the employee was tested.
“This is our first case [in the WQSB], and if I take away anything it's that the protocols were followed to the letter and public health was a great support,” Dubeau said.
If you or your child develop symptoms, the WQSB and the Outaouais health board [CISSSO] ask that you immediately notify your school’s administration, stay home, and contact 819-655-4545 or 1-877-644-4545 to book an appointment for a COVID-19 test.