Some parents left in the dark about positive COVID-19 cases in their child’s classroom
WINNIPEG -- Since students went back to class earlier this month, there have been multiple COVID-19 cases as schools.
Now some parents are asking questions about who is notified when positive cases are identified.
John W. Gunn Middle School in Transcona is where Sabrina Torres’ son goes to school, but on Monday she didn’t take him to class.
On Friday, the school sent out an email telling parents there was a COVID-19 case in the school.
On Sunday, Torres received another email that said anyone who had been in close contact with the student would be notified.
“I had spoken to a few of my friends, other parents in the school, and we had assumed since we weren’t notified, not only was the child ( who tested positive) not in our classroom, (they) wouldn’t be in our cohort,” said Torres.
On Sunday, Torres followed up with more parents and found out the positive case was a child in her son's class.
She said two students were told to quarantine because they were in close contact with the positive case, something that Torres’ son wasn’t asked to do.
“My question to Manitoba Public Health would be what’s the definition of close contact? Because my child sat in the same classroom with the infected child for eight hours, sharing handle surfaces and jacket hang-up surfaces.”
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer, said the definition of close contact is spending more than fifteen minutes within two meters of an infectious person.
“When there’s a case in a school, Public Health will work with that school,” said Roussin.
“(We) look at the seating arrangements, look at any activities, and work closely to try to identify who is a close contact.”
Roussin said when a case breaks out in a school, if Public Health isn’t confident they’ve identified all the close contacts, they might have to notify that student's entire cohort.
He said several circumstances determine who needs to be contacted.
A spokesperson for the River East Transcona School Division said it’s up to Public Health to determine who is informed about positive cases.
It said Public Health emails a letter to the school for distribution to all parents and guardians, to let them know a confirmed case was identified.
Torres said she doesn’t blame the division for following guidelines, but she believes Public Health should be telling all parents if someone in their child’s class tests positive so they can decide on whether to send their child to school.