By Sue Tiffin
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Archie Stouffer Elementary School students in a Grade 5/6 class have been identified as close contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
An April 2 e-mail to families in the Grade 5/6 class from the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district health unit notes that students attending that class on March 30, March 31 or April 1 have been “identified as a close contact of an individual who is positive for COVID-19.”
The letter serves as official notice of mandatory quarantine, noted as a legal requirement to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and testing recommendation for those children.
As of April 2, the students “must quarantine at home from now until midnight on April 15,” and can return to school on April 16 as long as they have no symptoms. They should not leave their property unless to go for testing or seek medical attention. It is recommended they go for testing at their nearest assessment centre on April 8. If they have been tested prior to April 8, “a retest is strongly recommended on April 11.”
“If your child does not have symptoms, all household members must stay home except for essential reasons,” reads the letter. “Essential reasons include attending work/school/childcare and essential errands such as groceries, attending medical appointments or picking up prescriptions. If your child has symptoms, household members must quarantine until a negative test result is received.”
A second letter from Jane Austin, principal, Archie Stouffer Elementary School, was sent to all families of students attending the Minden school. It notes that students not considered a close contact of the person who tested positive for COVID-19 “may come to school, as usual,” and “do not need to stay at home (isolate) or go for testing unless they start showing new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 and do not pass the daily COVID-19 self-screening.”
“We know this information may be upsetting,” said Austin in the letter. “We are working closely with Trillium Lakelands District School Board and [the HKPRD health unit]. Together we are taking necessary steps to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 within our school community. Due to privacy laws, the health unit will not release personal information about any staff or student who is ill unless deemed necessary.”
“Please know that whenever there is an identified COVID-19 case at a school, there is additional cleaning and sanitizing of the school above and beyond the extensive cleaning and sanitizing that occurs throughout each school day. The safety of our students and staff is most important and we continue to follow all public health protocols.”
Further information is available at http://www.hkpr.on.ca, or by calling 1-866-888-4577 ext. 1508. Parents/Caregivers with any questions or concerns can contact the health unit at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.