Public health confirms first school-related cases of COVID-19

GUELPH – Officials have confirmed there are now three school-related cases of COVID-19 in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) region.

On Sept. 26 public health announced the first school-related case at Glenbrook Elementary School in Shelburne.

Three days later, the Wellington Catholic District (WCDSB) School Board reported two school-related cases: one at St. Joseph Catholic School and one at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Secondary School, both in Guelph.

Officials say they are working closely with Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) and WCDSB to manage the cases and reduce further risk to students.

All three schools remain open but one classroom at each facility has been closed, according to the boards’ websites.

“The safe return to schools and the health of students, staff and their families is Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s largest project for the fall,” stated Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of WDGPH, in a Sept. 26 press release.

“This is a reminder that COVID-19 is still present in our region and that keeping our schools as safe as possible will take a community-wide effort.”

As of Sept. 29, there is only one other case of COVID-19 reported in area schools: at St. Benedict Catholic School in Orangeville, which is part of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

All classrooms at St. Benedict remain open and the school is also open.

WDGPH spokesperson Danny Williamson said the case at St. Benedict “was a community case that did not pose additional risk to the school population.”

The case at Glenbrook Elementary School in Shelburne, as well as the cases at both Guelph schools, are the first cases in the region “of an individual in the school where others may have been exposed within the school environment,” stated Williamson.

Mercer said the first school-related cases are “an important reminder that we all must wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing and keep our groups and gatherings small.

“Fewer cases in our community means fewer cases in our schools.”

Officials also suggest downloading the COVID-19 Alert mobile app as another step to battle COVID-19 this fall.

“It is vital that we protect our children as they return to school so they can realize the many positive benefits of being with their peers and our many dedicated teachers,” said Mercer.

Officials say case management and contact tracing is underway and students and families are advised to follow the direction of public health and their school board.