Rapid spread of COVID-19 outbreak closes Kitchener Elementary School | MCU Times

Rapid spread of COVID-19 outbreak closes Kitchener Elementary School

WATERLOO REGION – Blessed Sacrament Catholic Elementary School in Kitchener is closed for at least 10 days due to concerns about widespread and rapid transfer of COVID-19.

The Region of Waterloo Public Health on Wednesday instructed the closure of personal learning at the school, where there are currently 19 cases of COVID-19, which has resulted in several cohorts being fired.

Dr. Julie Emili, associate medical officer, called the outbreak an “extraordinary circumstance” coming well into the school year.

“We are many months into this and we have seen very few outbreaks in the school system, and for the most part this is an unusual outbreak. It has been limited to one or two cases, so the spread has been very limited. It is even within our elementary system, where children have not yet been vaccinated, ”she said during a media briefing on Wednesday.

All cases are with students, and nearly 70 percent of the cases are in two classrooms. None of the students with COVID-19 are admitted.

The closure follows a rapid rise in cases over the past week, Emili said. “The idea is to prevent further cases from occurring within the school.”

The cases are a combination of infections acquired in the community and within the school.

“Because this is primarily an unvaccinated population, Delta spread much more easily in these environments,” Emili said.

The Blessed Sacrament has a student population of 340 and goes up to 8th grade. Most cases are among the younger, unvaccinated students.

“We have seen a certain spread among vaccinated students. This is not unusual. Vaccination certainly reduces your risk of getting COVID, but it does not completely eliminate it, ”said Emili. “The vast majority are unvaccinated given that most of the students would not yet be eligible for vaccination.”

Public Health had on Wednesday morning identified 142 high-risk contacts at the school.

The outbreak was declared a week ago on 16 November.

Closing the school was a decision made late Tuesday out of an abundance of caution, said Loretta Notten, education director of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

“It was actually the school board that initiated the request for the closure,” Notten said.

“We are clearly concerned about what happened at the sacrament. But on the whole, we have done very, very well as a school system, and with our schools and cases, we have been low, and we still have a high degree of confidence in the security of our classrooms, our schools, and of our protocols. “

Distance learning begins for all students Thursday through Wednesday to ensure that all students who need a Chromebook have one and that teachers are ready to switch to distance learning. Cohorts that have already isolated themselves have learned online.

“We know we have the opportunity to offer online learning in the meantime, so learning does not have to be disrupted and it just ensures that we do not have more families than may be necessary to be affected by COVID,” he said. Notten.

Public Health works with the school to ensure that infection and prevention control measures are implemented to protect staff, students and their families.

Rapid antigen testing is also recommended when students return to school after closure to limit further spread, and public health will work with the school to distribute test kits to families.

Emili said it is good news that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the region for children ages five to 11 from this Friday.

“There is a lot to hope for in the coming week and I think many parents are excited about the opportunity to vaccinate their children, especially in this age cohort where we are seeing this outbreak.”

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