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Montreal’s Herzliah High School closes for two weeks, moves learning online amid COVID-19 outbreak

Click to play video 'Montreal-area high school forced to shut down to stem COVID-19 outbreak' Montreal-area high school forced to shut down to stem COVID-19 outbreak
WATCH: Fifteen students and staff members at Herzliah High School in Montreal have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the school to suspend in-person learning for at least two weeks. As Global’s Amanda Jelowicki reports, classes have moved online as school and public health officials attempt to control the spread of the virus. – Sep 17, 2020

A private Jewish high school in Montreal’s west end is ending in-person classes and switching to all-online instruction — at least for now — after multiple students and staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Herzliah High School in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough confirmed the situation to Global News on Thursday morning, saying the school will be closed for the next two weeks.

“Herzliah is working in close collaboration with Quebec Public Health and following their directives to manage the situation,” the school said in a statement.

The school did not confirm how many members of the school community had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but Montreal’s director of public health says around 15 infections were reported late Wednesday.

“The outbreaks we have in school settings are small with the exception of that school,” said Dr. Mylène Drouin.

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Read more: Montreal parents, teachers question protocols as high school deals with COVID-19 outbreak

Earlier this week, five homeroom classes were in isolation due to suspected exposure to COVID-19, even as much of the rest of the student body continued learning in-person.

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Drouin said Thursday that eight students in one class had confirmed cases and then the virus spread to other parts of the school.

“The first outbreak, even in this school, was well controlled but we have sporadic cases that are coming in from the community,” Drouin said.

She said since Herzliah was already offering online courses, public health decided it would be prudent to shut the school down for two weeks.

READ MORE: Quebecers must be careful in coming days as coronavirus cases rise, health minister says

Rabbi Reuben Poupko, a leader in Montreal’s Jewish community, said he has been in touch with school officials about the outbreak. He told Global News that closing the school was done out of precaution to limit the spread of the virus, but that students are doing well.

“None of the students are sick. They are positive for COVID,” he said. “No one is hospitalized.”

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“From what I understand, they are all asymptomatic, but it’s still a frightening reality we are living with.”

With files from Global News’ Amanda Jelowicki and the Canadian Press

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