Chatham-Kent school boards report their first COVID-19 cases

Two people from St. Anne Catholic School in Blenheim, along with a service provider that works with both the St. Clair Catholic District School Board and Lambton-Kent District School Board have tested positive. 

Locals share mixed reactions over the cases

Chatham-Kent Public Health reported its first three cases in the region's school community Tuesday. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Three people in Chatham-Kent's school community have tested positive for COVID-19, making them the first cases in the region's schools to contract the disease, according to the local public health unit. 

Two people from St. Anne Catholic School in Blenheim, along with a service provider that works with both the St. Clair Catholic District School Board and Lambton-Kent District School Board have tested positive. Compared to Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent has seen few cases since the pandemic began. 

The region currently has seven active cases.

But the cases reported Tuesday have locals sharing mixed reactions. 

"It's a safe place and I'm shocked because as far as I'm concerned the schools had all their protocols in place and the buses and I'm totally shocked by that," said Dan Hawryluk, who lives in Blenheim. 

Meanwhile, a parent in the Blenheim community said the community just needs to be on the look-out. 

"Honestly I'm not a concerned parent, I feel like you know it is in the public however we just all need to do our part, wash our hands and stay healthy," Ashley Handy told CBC News. 

The individuals at St. Anne contracted the disease outside of school and are self-isolating, stated a news release from Chatham-Kent on Tuesday. Public health said it is working with the Catholic board to provide next steps and additional support, along with reaching out to close contacts. 

Blenheim resident and parent Ashley Handy says the cases don't concern her, she just thinks everyone needs to continue following public health measures. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"It's unnerving when you have a positive case, they should know that public health would be in touch with them if they have any concerns or if they need to take any actions. So if you haven't heard from Chatham-Kent Public Health then there is no need for you to take any action," said Deb Crawford, the director of education for the St. Clair Catholic School Board. 

As for the service provider, the health unit said the individual is self-isolating and that all affected schools have been notified including, Ursuline College Chatham, St. Anne Catholic School in Blenheim, Harwich-Raleigh Public School and Blenheim District High School. 

It's not clear what role the service provider holds in the schools. 

The health unit said it has notified all close contacts and advised them to self-isolate. 

41 students sent home to isolate

Due to probable cases at Harwich Raleigh and Blenheim District, 41 students have been sent home to isolate.

It's also not clear whether these students are in relation to the service provider case. 

In the last 24 hours, the school board has provided CBC News with three different numbers for the number of students in isolation from these schools. 

The Catholic board's director of education says they are working closely with public health and that close contacts will be notified by the health unit. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

On Monday, Lambton-Kent District School Board said 54 students from Harwich Raleigh and 17 students from Blenheim District were in isolation. That same day, the board corrected itself and said 28 students from Harwich Raleigh and 18 students from Blenheim District were isolating. 

On Tuesday, the board provided different numbers for Harwich Raleigh, stating that 23 students were isolating. 

"All [Lambton-Kent District School Board] teachers have been asked to develop an online presence to facilitate student learning. Any students who are dismissed by public health to quarantine will have the opportunity to continue their learning with their homeroom teacher," the school board said in a statement to CBC News. 


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