St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Elementary School closed due to COVID-19 outbreak

Hamilton's Catholic school board has closed St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Elementary School, which is entering remote learning as of Friday and will do targeted testing at the school.

More targeted testing clinics are being set up in Hamilton schools

Hamilton's Catholic school board is closing a school after an outbreak infected at least five people. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Hamilton's Catholic school board has closed St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Elementary School after announcing a COVID-19 outbreak at the school Wednesday.

Pat Daly, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic School Board (HWCDSB) chair, said the outbreak at the school on San Remo Drive near Olympic Park has infected at least four staff members and four students as of Thursday. That's three new cases. 

He says roughly 95 students and 20 staff were asked to self-isolate.

A letter to families from Daly and HWCDSB director David Hansen, states the school will begin remote learning on Friday and return to in-person learning on March 1.

"The decision to close was made in consultation with Hamilton Public Health Services (HPHS) out of our priority concern for the health and safety of our students and staff, and our ability to sufficiently staff school with so many staff currently in quarantine. The pivot to virtual learning will enable St. Teresa of Avila CES to continue to safely support student learning," it said.

"Students will have an opportunity to collect personal belongings and any materials they will need during the online virtual learning period through curbside pick-up. Your principal, Mrs. Catania, will notify you of those provisions."

Targeted testing clinics being set up in Hamilton schools

The board also said it is working with HPHS to set up more targeted testing clinics at the school over the next couple of days.

The city's medical officer of health previously said public health is looking at using rapid, antigen tests to help understand the spread of COVID-19 in schools and find more cases within dismissed cohorts.

On Saturday, public health hosted asymptomatic testing at Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School and Orchard Park Secondary School. There were no positive cases among the 21 staff and 65 students tested.

Shawn McKillop, spokesperson for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), says more targeted testing clinics are being set up in their schools too.

"School boards will undertake asymptomatic targeted testing in at least five per cent of the elementary and secondary schools within their jurisdiction each week," he said in an email.

"Details of this implementation will be confirmed working with public health, and we will communicate as soon as we are ready with the next testing centre. Implementation will begin the week of Feb. 22."

He said according to the province, board should prioritize schools in areas of high transmission, high case numbers and schools where access to testing may be challenging.

"While the five per cent target is on the number of schools where testing will occur, boards are also asked to reach two per cent of their student population per week," McKillop wrote.

"The testing will be voluntary and consent will be required. Testing will be for asymptomatic students and staff only. Household members of students and staff, and anyone with symptoms, should seek testing at an assessment centre."

3 new school COVID-19 cases

HWCDSB says a staff member at Annunciation of Our Lord Catholic Elementary School has the virus, but has no close contacts and poses no risk to the school community.

HWDSB is reporting two new cases of COVID-19.

A staff member at Queen Mary Elementary School and a student at Cathy Wever Elementary School are both infected.

"School administrators will contact any students or staff identified as close contacts, who will self-isolate for 14 days," the board said in a notice.

Attention parents, students and teachers: We want to hear from you!

We hope you'll use this form to tell us about school conditions, how classes are going or whatever other pressing issues are on your mind this February in Hamilton, Niagara, St. Catharines and Burlington.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.