Parents and guardians of students at two Thompson schools were informed of possible exposures to COVID-19 during the last week of school before Christmas in three letters sent out by Manitoba public health during the holiday break.
Two of the letters – one to parents and guardians of Wapanohk Community School students and another to parents and guardians of R.D. Parker Collegiate students -– were dated Dec. 26, although the Wapanohk letter was not distributed to parents by email until Jan. 3.
The exposure at Wapanohk affected the Grade 5 cohort and was related to someone with a confirmed case of the virus who was int he school Dec. 17-18, when they may have been infectious.
A letter to RDPC parents the same day informed them that two people with confirmed case of COVID-19 had been in the school, one of them on Dec. 15 and the other on Dec. 18, when they may have been infectious. The letter said no close contacts had been identified at the school and that no one was required to self-isolate as a result of this exposure.
Information about a previous possible virus exposure was relayed to RDPC parents in a Dec. 22 letter, which informed them that someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was in the school in the afternoon on Dec. 14-15 while they may have been infectious. That possible public exposure occurred on Monday and Tuesday of the last week of classes before the Christmas break when students with last names beginning with A-K were attending classes in person. The letter says that the initial public health investigation assesses the risk of exposure to be low due to thorough and consistent application of COViD-19 prevention measures.
There were also possible exposures at Westwood School and University College of the North (UCN) in December.
Two people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were at Westwood Dec. 9-11 when they may have been infectious. A person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was at UCN Dec. 14 when they may have been infectious. Public health said the risk of exposure in both cases was low.
People with COVID-19 may be infectious for two days before they begin showing symptoms.
People identified as close contact of anyone with COVID-19 will be contacted and provided instructions by public health staff and testing may be recommended in some cases.
Contact tracing divides people into three categories: close contacts, medium-risk contact and low-risk contacts. The first group includes anyone who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of a person who has tested positive for the virus. Medium-risk contacts are those who were not that close to or were in the company of an infected person for a shorter period of time.
Close contacts are expected to self-isolate themselves and get tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms. Medium-risk contacts are asked to self-monitor themselves, including taking their temperature twice a day, for two weeks, while low-risk contacts do not have to take any special precautions beyond those everybody is asked to take because they aren’t at any greater risk of infection than the general public.
School resumed Jan. 4. Kindergarten to Grade 6 students may attend classes in person or participate online. All Manitoba students from Grade 7-12 will do remote learning only for the first two weeks after the holidays.
Overall there have been 10 notifications sent to parents about possible public exposures to COVID-19 at School District of Mystery Lake schools, including three at Westwood School (the previous incidents took place Nov. 16-20 and Oct. 29), one at Burntwood Nov. 16-17, one at Deerwood Oct. 14-16, one at Riverside Nov. 23, one at Wapanohk and three at RDPC, the first one having occurred Oct. 15-16. The total number of confirmed cases related to these notifications is 12, including four at RDPC and four at Westwood and one confirmed case connected to each of the other four schools where possible public exposures have occurred.
Anyone whose child develops fever or chills, a cough, a sore throat or hoarse voice, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, or vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours is instructed to isolate them from others and seek testing within 24 hours after symptoms appear. The same advice applies to anyone who gets two or more of the following symptoms: runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue, pink eye, a headache, a skin rash of unknown cause or a loss of appetite.
People with these symptoms who do not get tested must self-isolate for 10 days following the start of symptoms. Isolation can be discontinued after 10 days if the person has been symptom-free for 24 hours.