ODSS faces six person COVID-19 outbreak, closes three classes

December 23, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski 

Orangeville District Secondary School (ODSS) has six confirmed cases of COVID-19 and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health closed three classrooms before the holidays because of the current outbreak. 

Classes are closed when there’s a positive case that’s considered a “high risk contact” by Public Health. Classes can have a positive case and remain open if the infected student wasn’t at school during their infectious period.

For an entire school to be shut down, there has to be evidence of students or staff spreading the virus amongst one another within its walls.

Danny Williamson of WDG Public Health told the Citizen, they have a very targeted approach when dealing with COVID-19 in schools, so wherever possible, they’ll opt to isolate the affected classrooms instead of shutting everything down. 

“For it to go beyond that, in a general sense, there would have to be a concern that just isolating a cohort or several cohorts wouldn’t be enough to kind of manage the transmission within the school,” said Williamson.

He noted that the targeted approach is important because when schools are closed or businesses are closed, there are other health-related impacts.

“The goal is always, what is the smallest and most targeted intervention that will address the COVID case or the COVID outbreak, and where that can be small, it’s small, where it needs to be large, then it is,” explained Williamson.

“In general, the hope is always to not have to close a business, not have to close a school, not have to close a worship space, because these things are important, and all of these factors play into health and well being.”

In the event of a positive COVID-19 case at schools, WDG Public Health will contact the individuals who tested positive, as well as the school and bus consortium, if applicable.

WDG Public Health then contacts all students, staff and visitors who are determined to be a high-risk contact for any of the individuals who tested positive. 

Staff and students who aren’t contacted by Public Health are not considered high-risk, however they should still continue to monitor and screen for symptoms of COVID-19 daily and practice all Public Health protocols.

On the schools end, they provide all relevant information to WDG Public Health when there’s a positive COVID-19 case.

Areas of the school or bus where the infected students inhabited will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

In terms of preventing COVID-19 from circulating further in the community, Williamson said its essential everyone doesn’t let their guard down. 

“Whatever context you’re thinking about, whether it’s a workplace outbreak, whether it’s a school, whether it’s a church, whether it’s the hospital, the reason we see outbreaks is because COVID is moving in the community. It’s going from person to person,” he noted.

“The thing that people need to take away from this is, it’s ultimately the sum of our choices. It’s our willingness to wear a mask and wash our hands, keeping the physical distance, and only gathering with the people we live with,” Williamson added.

“The sum of all of us willing to do these Public Health measures is the best indicator of what our cases will look like over the winter.”

Williamson stressed that ultimately, its Ontarians choices the will determine the severity of COVID-19 in the months ahead.

“We’re hearing great news about the vaccine, like every single day, pretty much, and what I really want people to think about is getting everybody to the finish line together,” he said. “It’s going to take a while to get enough vaccine in the province and in the region to get a sufficient number of people vaccinated.”

All southern Ontario high schools, including ODSS will shift to remote learning on Jan. 4 and are scheduled to return to in-person learning for Jan. 25.

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