17 students isolating from COVID-19 case at Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary in Hamilton

One class has been closed and 17  Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School students are in self-isolation after one of them tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

Parent of student in isolation says public health should offer more specific information about how to isolate

A COVID-19 case at Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School has put 17 students in self-isolation. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

One class has been closed and 17  Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School students are in self-isolation after one of them tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

Alexa Pollard is one of those students. Her father, David, told CBC they knew there was a case at the school that day, but only learned the student was in Alexa's class on Sunday.

"We were told to go home and self-isolate, but there could have been more instructions on what to do," he said.

"She's frustrated, but she's going on online learning."

David said he's happy with how the school board prepared for the pandemic, but he's frustrated by public health's communication. He says it took too long to respond and added he is confused about whether Alexa should be tested or not.

"By the time we get the results back, she'll be back in school. We don't see the symptoms, we don't see anything but in my opinion, they should have told us to go get tested immediately ... they never told us to," he said.

"She can go back to school on the 28th ... they're including the days she was attending school (from the 14th) as being quarantined."

Jacqueline Durlov, a spokesperson with public health, told CBC parents with students in Bishop Tonnos were "given the same standard instructions as all others who are identified as a close contact in any case."

"These instructions include that the child would be required to stay at home until 14 days after their contact with the case, monitor for symptoms, stay in their room, only a share a bathroom if no other solution, wear mask if they must leave their room or go for health care, and monitor for symptoms," she wrote in an e-mail.

"Public health would be following up with them regularly to discuss any symptoms that may develop and otherwise check in with them until their quarantine is over."

It's unclear what kind of symptoms the infected person has or had, where and/or how they got the virus, but they were last in the school on Monday, Sept. 14.

Marnie Jadon, a spokesperson for Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, said no staff needed to self-isolate.

One thing David isn't worried about is the student case turning into an outbreak.

Dr. Ninh Tran with Hamilton Public Health previously told CBC one student getting the virus would not lead an entire school to close down.

INTERACTIVE | Use this map to find COVID-19 cases in local schools

Outbreaks, which are defined by two, connected lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a school, will be handled case-by-case.

"There's no fast, exact rule ... the type of intervention will depend on the size and type of outbreak," he said.

"Certainly if we have cases popping up in various classrooms and we think there's transmission within the schools then, yeah, closing the school becomes a much more reasonable option."

This comes after a handful of local schools sent notices to families about COVID-19 cases in students or staff.

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board had a staff member at the Umbrella Family and Child Centre before-and-after school program at the school test positive on Thursday.

Durlov told CBC on Monday eight or nine students are self-isolating.

More to come.

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