Health unit in Sudbury outlines how it will handle COVID-19 cases in local schools
In a news release Friday, Public Health Sudbury & Districts outlined how it would respond should students attending school test positive for the disease. (File)
SUDBURY -- Public Health Sudbury & Districts says if there's a COVID-19 outbreak at a local school, it will release the name of the school and the steps taken to address it.
In a news release Friday, Public Health outlined how it would respond should students attending school test positive for the disease.
"An outbreak in a school will be declared if there are two or more cases of COVID-19 in a 14-day period that have some link with each other, and with evidence that infection occurred at the school," the release said. "Public Health will post information online about outbreaks of COVID-19 in Sudbury and districts, including, for example, the school name and date the outbreak was declared."
The name of the school won't routinely be identified publicly if there is only one positive test. However, if parents have questions related to their child’s school, they can contact the school board or school directly.
"School boards and schools are required to post information if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 that involves a student or a staff member," the release said. "Public Health will support schools to ensure everyone has the information they need."
No longer releasing age, gender of positive cases
Public Health will conduct" timely case and contact follow up" and work closely with the school to determine next steps. If individuals are identified as close contact of a case in a school setting, Public Health will contact them/their parent or guardian directly and provide direction.
The health unit will also no longer routinely release the age or gender of people who test positive unless that information is required to prevent more cases.
"Public Health will continue to report the testing date, exposure category, status, and area of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its service area," the release said. "Generally, Public Health only releases information that may identify an individual if the release of that information is required to protect others from a communicable disease."
While their summary of cases will continue to include age group and sex data to identify trends, it will no longer be reported at an individual level.
“Our commitment remains to keep our communities informed, protect individual privacy, and maintain transparency, while protecting the health of our communities,” Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health, said in the release. “When publicly reporting confirmed cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 in school settings, we will strike a balance between providing relevant information that people need to protect their health and be informed, and an individual’s right to privacy.”
Schools will communicate with parents
Schools and school boards are required to communicate details regarding any closures to their school communities. If parents have questions about what is happening in their school, they should contact the school board or school directly.
"Public Health Sudbury & Districts is reminding the public that now, more than ever, we need to recommit to COVID-19 prevention," the release said. "Monitor and screen for symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone with at least one COVID-19 symptom should consider testing."
Public Health Sudbury & Districts has created a Schools and COVID-19 webpage, which will be updated routinely with new resources, information, and current guidance, and the Government of Ontario has launched a webpage to report COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres.
For more information or if you have questions, click here or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).