COVID-19 has now made its way into one in five schools in Quebec, barely two weeks after the start of the school year.
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As of September 9, active cases have been identified in 620 schools out of a total of 2,997 schools, or 21%. Last year, this milestone was crossed at the end of September.
Despite new instructions from Public Health which were to limit the number of closed classes this year, there are now 116 groups in isolation at home.
Several players in the education network and parents deplore the confusion that reigns in this area.
During a press briefing before the start of the school year, the national director of public health, Horacio Arruda, had said that group closures would be less frequent this year since “several” cases would lead to the complete isolation of a group, rather only one.
However, the official directives sent to the school network provide for the closure of a group in the event of an outbreak, that is to say as soon as a second epidemiologically linked case is declared in a group of students.
However, several complete classes were closed after only one positive case, since the directives seem to vary from one region to another. “We understood that the classes would remain open as much as possible, but we can see that the rules are not applied in the same way everywhere,” notes Kévin Roy, president of the Federation of Parents’ Committees of Quebec.
Long lead times
In some cases, decisions by regional public health authorities are also slow to reach schools.
Last week, in a school in the Montreal area, a case was declared in a group on Thursday, but the instructions from the regional authorities were sent the following Wednesday, almost a week later, reports the Federation of education unions.
In the meantime, all of the students have been sent home in isolation. “There is really a gap and that creates a lot of concern in the circles,” says its president, Josée Scalabrini.
She hopes, however, that the call to order made by Dr Arruda this week with the regional public health directorates will give concrete results.