Supply teacher potentially exposes more than a dozen classrooms to COVID-19 at former Ryerson Public School

Health authorities are saying a supply teacher in London, Ont. potentially exposed more than a dozen classrooms to COVID-19.

The supply teacher is fully vaccinated

Unvaccinated students from 14 different classrooms at former Ryerson Public School are now isolating after a supply teacher tested positive for COVID-19. (Gundam_Ai/Shutterstock)

Health authorities say a supply teacher in London, Ont. potentially exposed more than a dozen classrooms to COVID-19. 

On Monday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak to CBC News after it was determined there was transmission within the school formerly known as Ryerson Public School. 

The supply teacher was covering a prep teacher role, Dr. Chris Mackie, Middlesex-London's Medical Officer of Health, said on Tuesday. That person entered a total of 14 different classrooms, and close contacts are now self-isolating.

Mackie said the supply teacher is fully vaccinated. 

"It's a breakthrough case," said Mackie. "That means that the likelihood of spreading is lower. But we have had a single case where we don't think that there is a better explanation anywhere else in the community, except exposure in all of these classes."    

Parent Jessica Grahn said she was notified of the outbreak over the Thanksgiving weekend. Her young son, who was in one the classrooms, is now in isolation. 

Grahn said although her son missed out on celebrating his eighth birthday with friends, there is relief in knowing the source of the outbreak. 

"If there had been a vaccine mandate for staff in place, we never would have had to worry about whether this was something that could have been prevented or not knowing that the person was double vaccinated," said Grahn. "I'm actually glad that in this particular case, we're not seeing the consequences of something that could have been prevented." 

Parent Ben Johnson said that the breakthrough case is a "wake-up call." 

"I know this person happened to be vaccinated but I hope it shows how quickly things can spread," he said.  

Lower likelihood of spreading virus

There are two active cases in the school, according to the latest update from the Thames Valley District School Board. 

Mackie said that supply teachers generally have a short amount of exposure to classrooms and have a lower likelihood of spreading the virus. 

"We have seen potentially one case of the situation," he said. "If we end up with, you know, eight or 10 cases linked to this, then we do have a problem we need to take more action on. But in general, being vaccinated is a strong protection against first developing and then it does reduce the risk of spread as well."

He said it was too early to say whether or not all supply teachers should be subject to testing before entering a classroom.
The former Ryerson Public School remains open. Five schools in the region are currently dealing with outbreaks.