September 18, 2020
The recent news of positive COVID-19 cases in Manitoba schools serves as an important reminder for all parents/guardians, students and staff to remain vigilant in following the recommendations of Manitoba Public Health. Fortunately, in most of the recent cases, the risk of widespread impact and further transmission in the schools was deemed low by Public Health, who indicated that “physical distancing was maintained while at school and a mask was worn.”
At present, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with Hanover Schools, but it’s reasonable to expect that we, too, will have positive cases in our schools in the coming weeks or months. The process for notification when a case of COVID-19 occurs within a school continues to evolve; however, the general process includes the following steps:
- Upon receipt of a positive lab report for a school-aged child, the Public Health Nurse interviews the parent/guardian and child.
- If a school setting is identified as potential exposure, regional public health officials share information with provincial Public Health and the Department of Education. Manitoba Education will contact the school division.
- Regional Public Health notifies the principal of the affected school that a confirmed COVID-19 case has been identified in a student/child from their school and that the investigation is ongoing.
- Regional Public Health interviews the principal and/or relevant staff to verify potential exposures/close contacts in the classroom/cohort during the period of communicability.
- The Public Health Nurse notifies close contacts (if applicable), advises to self-isolate, and provides additional education.
- A letter developed by The Department of Education, in consultation with regional Public Health, is distributed informing all parents/guardians in the affected school that:
- A confirmed case was identified in the school
- Close contacts have been identified, notified and advised to self-isolate
- Further information, including self-monitoring instructions and a list of symptoms, is available on the MB COVID-19 site
Lastly, a reminder that Public Health has mandated all students in Grades 4-12 and all staff and visitors must wear non-medical masks in areas where two-metre physical distancing is not possible. Wearing a non-medical mask is a tool that, in addition to practising public health fundamentals, may help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others, especially in indoor public spaces such as schools. The province has released a made-in-Manitoba video to help students understand the importance of face masks and how to use them. The Wear It Well child-friendly video explains masks in a clear and easily understood way. The animated video presents basic health messages to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and is one of several items available on the provincial Restoring Safe Schools website.
Shelley Amos, Interim Superintendent/CEO