8 more COVID-19 cases connected to Hamilton schools
Niagara College says two positive cases have been confirmed at its Welland campus
Five new COVID-19 cases have been reported by Hamilton's public board, along with three more at Catholic schools in the city, as the virus continues to impact educational institutions across the region.
The latest positive tests for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) involve four students and a staff member who worked at two schools.
Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School and Frank Panabaker Elementary School both saw their second cases of the pandemic this week.
A letter from MacNab principal Gregory Clark said a student, who was last in the school on Oct. 13, tested positive on Oct. 20.
The board says public health has determined there are not staff or student close contacts as the student wasn't inside the building when there was a risk of exposure.
"As such, [public health] considers the risk to other students and staff low," reads Clark's letter.
The Panabaker case was confirmed on Oct. 21.
Principal Jenny Seto-Vanderlip wrote to families that the staff member from the south campus was last in the facility on Oct. 7, and that the staff member doesn't directly instruct students.
Public health has "determined there is no risk of transmission to the school community," she said.
That same staff member also worked at Dundana Elementary School, according to HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop, meaning although two schools are involved, it's only counted as one case.
Principal Kristi Keery Bishop says the employee was last at Dundana on Oct. 7 and that public health has ruled there's no risk of transmission to the school community.
"The staff member does not provide direct instruction to students," she wrote. "The risk to students and staff is low and there are no student cohorts impacted."
The other three student cases announced Wednesday are at Gordon Price Elementary School, Lake Avenue Elementary School and Nora Frances Henderson Secondary School.
The Lake Avenue student was last in the building on Oct. 20 and the class and staff members who were in contact have been directed not to attend school for 14 days.
Staff and students who came into contact with the Nora Henderson case have also been directed to stay home and isolate for two weeks.
That student was last in the school on Oct. 15.
The risk of exposure at Gordon Price Elementary is considered low, according to a letter from principal Brian Patton.
He writes that a student who was last in the building on Oct. 16 tested positive on Oct. 21, adding public health believes there are no student or staff close contacts because the student wasn't at school when there was a risk of exposure.
Following a positive case, the HWDSB says it carries out a "detailed cleaning and disinfecting protocol."
Families and caregivers are asked to continue having students undergo daily screening and attend school unless they're a close contact who has been directed by public health to stay home.
Three new cases at St. Mary
New COVID-19 cases are also appearing at Catholic schools in Hamilton.
Three student cases have been confirmed at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School this week.
On Oct. 20, principal Brian Daly wrote a letter to families saying a student who was last at school on Oct. 16 had tested positive.
The next day, Daly shared another letter informing families of two more student cases.
Those students were also last in the building on Oct. 16, he said.
"As part of its COVID-19 action plan, the HWCDSB will undertake a deep cleaning and disinfection of all areas at the school occupied by symptomatic individuals and will ensure all preventive measures are in place."
Niagara College has also released details of two people who tested positive for the virus who last visited the Welland campus on Oct. 14.
The college says both are in self-isolation and that anyone at risk of being exposed will be contacted by public health.
Despite the fact the two cases were at the same location, an advisory for students stresses that health officials have not declared an outbreak at the campus.
"An outbreak is declared when it is believed that transmission likely occurred between two or more people within a facility," it explains. "That is not believed to be the situation in this case."
The college added the Welland campus is safe for students, noting it follows public health advice on closing and disinfecting areas when there's a positive case.