Hamilton schoolchildren, parents face delays in knowing if they need to quarantine

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Published December 23, 2021 at 7:32 pm

Hamilton schoolchildren who are high-risk close contacts of people infected with COVID-19 will not be informed of it right away.

Both school boards in the city shared a message Thursday on behalf Hamilton Public Health Services, saying there is “a delay in our school and school board partners’ ability to inform school communities of the positive result and whether high risk close contacts (HRC) within the case’s cohort(s) need to quarantine.” The backlog is the knock-on effect of Hamilton having more than 1,000 active COVID-19 cases and an incidence rate of 194 per 100,000 population, which is highest in the city since the pandemic’s third wave.

“Hamilton Public Health Services is working as quickly as possible to address the backlog in cases, and staff will continue to manage cases throughout the duration of the holiday season,” stated the message that was shared by both the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB).

The announcement came just hours prior to the public health unit announcing it will no longer provide management of outbreaks linked to workplaces and community settings. It is directing more staff to manage COVID-19 outbreaks in high-risk settings, including schools and childcare centres, and among high-risk workers, including educators.

The messaging from the school boards did not mention N95 masks, which school boards will be allowed to provide to teachers if in-person learning resumes on Jan. 3.

Dr. Peter Jüni, the scientific director of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, recently said Ontarians should “ditch” single-layer cloth masks and upgrade to better protect themselves from contracting the Omicron variant.

The messaging from the HPHS and school boards offered several tips to Hamilton families for winter holiday planning. Those include:

  • Limiting the number of contacts they have over the holidays;
  • Maintaining physical distance;
  • Practising good hand hygiene;
  • Wearing a properly fitted mask;
  • Staying home if feeling unwell.

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