Parents receive notice of 2nd COVID-19 case associated with Saskatoon daycare

Félix Le Chat daycare in Saskatoon is closed today. In a letter obtained by CBC, parents were told a second person who regularly frequented the daycare tested positive for COVID-19. 

Félix Le Chat daycare in Saskatoon is closed after two confirmed cases of COVID-19.

A second positive COVID-19 case has been found in someone who frequents the Felix le Chat daycare on Albert Avenue in Saskatoon. (Omayra Issa/CBC)

Félix Le Chat daycare in Saskatoon was closed Monday after a second case of COVID-19 was found in someone at the facility. 

The daycare is located in Saskatoon's Haultain neighbourhood in same building as École canadienne-française - Pavillon Monique-Rousseau on Albert Avenue. 

In a letter obtained by CBC, parents were told a second person who regularly frequented the daycare tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Sept. 10. 

"A second person who had been isolating and is associated with the individual who was diagnosed COVID-19 positive last week at the Félix-le-Chat childcare centre in Saskatoon, has also tested positive," said Michèle Méthot, the school's principal, in an email to parents and guardians. 

Students are still attending the elementary school, despite the daycare being closed. 

"We continue to follow instructions from Saskatoon health authorities on the matter and activities are continuing normally at the school," Méthot said. 

Félix Le Chat declined to comment for this story.

Rachel Engler-Stringler, who has a daughter in the elementary school, said communication between the school and parents was much better this time than last week, when the first case was discovered. She said that in the first case, no one but parents with children in the daycare class associated with the case were informed. 

"Parents were very upset ... I think rightly so," said Engler-Stringler.

"They wanted to be able to have more information [to] make a decision themselves about whether to continue sending their kids to daycare, and the same with parents at the elementary school."

On Monday, Engler-Stringler commended the dayare for contacting all parents. She said she is still comfortable sending her daughter to the elementary school for now. 

"The one potential issue would of course be if the heating system is on, if there's potential for air circulation. But given the person who tested positive originally has not actually been there since before school started, I have fewer concerns," said Engler-Stringler.

Engler-Stringler said she is unhappy that the province waited "until the last minute" to provide funding for schools to prepare for COVID-19. 

Government communication

Engler-Stringler criticized the province for its management of the COVID-19 health emergency. She said the province should not hide this type of information from parents. 

In a statement, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said it "does not confirm specific cases or their locations unless there is a risk to the general public.

If there is a positive case, those impacted by the case — close contacts — would be informed as a normal part of public health response, says the SHA. 

"Those not contacted by public health should rest assured that an assessment has been conducted," SHA added.

Aaron Genest has a son in kindergarten at Pavillon Monique-Rousseau. He said communication concerning the daycare outbreak has been too slow to allow his family to react in time to manage the risk. 

"It's too vague for us to understand it," Genest said in an email to CBC.

"We are enormously exposed, with three kids at three schools. We are constantly looking for information that helps us intelligently assess our level of risk."

Parents of children at Pavillon Monique-Rousseau elementary school in Saskatoon say they want more swift and informative communication from the SHA concerning COVID-19 outbreaks. (The Canadian Press/NIAID-RML via AP)

The email to parents did not specify whether the people who tested positive are daycare staff members, children or parents.

"This information would have quite possibly changed our behaviour," Genest said. 

Genest said he needed to know about the COVID-19 case associated with the daycare before he sent his child to school this morning.

"At the moment, we're trying to follow the lead of those who are supposed to have the health of the community as a paramount concern, namely the SHA. However, our trust is eroding as we receive delayed and vague information," said Genest. 

"Our little one will go back tomorrow and, provided that we don't see cases in the school, will continue, but we're increasingly uneasy and frustrated."

Province response

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said contact tracers and public health officials are finding and contacting the right people when there are cases in daycares or schools.

"You must remember that not everyone is always in close contact," Moe said Monday. 

"We feel we have a very strong return to school plan in place and by extension our daycares for the most part have been open throughout this pandemic with fairly low cases."

With files from Omayra Issa