What happens if a COVID-19 case pops up at a Manitoba school

By | August 17, 2020

WINNIPEG — With weeks away until students return to the classroom, the province outlined what might happen if a COVID-19 case pops up at a Manitoba school.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief provincial public health officer, ran through the possible scenario during Monday’s COVID-19 update.

“We would look to see if we could really find close contacts, people seated at desks surrounding them,” said Roussin. “But, if we couldn’t be sure about that, then it could be the entire cohort self-isolating for those 14 days.” 

A cohort is a group of students who interact only with each other to stop the spread of the virus. 

The Manitoba government released its back to school plan last week, recommending cohorts in the classroom, but stopped short of mandating masks. 

“If we had a case that was well cohorted, then we would do a case investigation,” said Roussin. “We would look at the period of infectiousness.”

CLOSING SCHOOLS IS A LAST RESORT 

Last week, the province said shutting down schools would be a last resort. 

“The idea is not to require the closure of a school, should we start to see cases,” said Roussin. 

If a case does arise, certain areas of the school may be off-limits until they’re disinfected, and the “school community” will be notified. 

“The importance is we can’t have any symptomatic staff or students at school,” Roussin said.

Roussin stressed the importance again on Monday of keeping sick kids at home. 

“We’re not going to have symptoms (at school),” he said.

He also expects contact tracing will be easier to do with older students. 

“The idea behind a cohort is that it shouldn’t expand beyond that cohort,” said Roussin. “It shouldn’t be necessary to have anyone self-isolate who isn’t part of the cohort.”

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