Amid reopening, Quebec says 41 students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19

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WATCH: Quebec's public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda answered questions on Friday about what back to school will look like for children in September and how Quebec should be prepared for a second wave of COVID-199 infections in early fall. Global’s Gloria Henriquez reports – May 29, 2020

Over 40 staff and students tested positive for COVID-19 in the first two weeks after elementary schools outside the Montreal area opened on May 11, Quebec’s education department confirmed Friday.

A survey of school boards conducted May 25 found that 19 students and 22 staff members were found to be infected in the first two weeks following the reopening.

The highest numbers of cases were in school boards in the Laurentians and Montérégie regions north and southeast of Montreal, with 10 cases each.

The survey is lacking numbers from 12 of the province’s 72 school boards, which did not provide data to the province.

The province’s director of public health said Thursday that while there have been cases in schools, they have not caused any “significant negative impacts.”

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Dr. Horacio Arruda said it’s normal to have some cases as society returns to normal, but the situation is under control.

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“It’s normal that by having the daycare, the school being open to the community, there can be cases,” he said at a briefing in Quebec City.

“The advantage in those areas, is that they’re young children, and we didn’t put any personnel who was high-risk (in the classroom),” he said.

Arruda said he believed that one school had to close temporarily because several teachers were infected, but most of the cases elsewhere have been isolated ones.

Some of the teachers had become infected before the school opened, he said.

Another child at a daycare in the Quebec City region was also sent home from daycare after a parent tested positive, Arruda said.

Meanwhile, Quebec passed the 50,000 case mark on Friday as the province reported 530 new cases and 61 additional deaths.

The province allowed elementary schools outside the Montreal area to reopen on May 11 but has cancelled the rest of the school year in Montreal, which surpassed 25,000 cases on Friday.

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High schools and junior colleges across the province will also reopen only at the end of August.

A spokesman for the education department said about 46 per cent of public school and 51 per cent of private school students returned to class the week of May 11.

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