The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton schools report four outbreaks, 44 cases in second week back to school

- KATE MCCULLOUGH THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR Kate McCullough is a Hamiltonba­sed reporter covering education at The Spectator. Reach her via email: kmcculloug­

Four COVID-19 outbreaks — two Catholic and two public — were declared in the second week back to school, bringing the school-year total to five.

The latest outbreaks were declared on Saturday at two Hamilton elementary schools.

An outbreak was declared at Tapleytown Elementary School in Stoney Creek. Since Sept. 17, four cases — two staff and two students — have been found. An outbreak was also declared at Shannen Koostachin Elementary School in Hannon. Since Sept. 13, five students have tested positive.

Outbreaks declared last week include one at Huntington Park on the east Mountain declared Sept. 15 and one at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School on the west Mountain on Sept. 14.

A Sept. 6 outbreak at St. James the Apostle Elementary School was declared over Sept. 18.

A school outbreak is defined by the province “as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases ... with an epidemiolo­gical link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school.”

A total of 44 new cases were reported at Hamilton schools between Sept. 13 and 19.

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, which has a student population of approximat­ely 50,000, reported 31 cases — 28 students and three staff.

In the same week, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, which has a student population of approximat­ely 29,000, reported 13 cases of the virus — 12 students and one staff. Since Sept. 4, there have been a total of 63 cases — 51 students and 12 staff — at Hamilton schools.

At the Catholic board, there are currently 19 active cases and 22 cohorts closed. Fourteen Catholic schools have confirmed cases.

At a media briefing Monday, Hamilton’s medical officer of health said public health “did expect ... that there would be cases in the schools as they reopened.”

“The experience in those schools is going to reflect what's going on in our community,” said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson. “As those number of cases have come down, we hope that the number of cases in schools will continue to be at this level and not increase further.”

Richardson said public health is working with boards to “go over the circumstan­ces” of an outbreak and learn from it.

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