More details are emerging surrounding a case of COVID-19 reported at H.B. Beal Secondary School. The case marks the first reported among elementary and secondary schools in London, Ont., and Middlesex County.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) first reported the case on Monday and provincial health officials have since confirmed that the infected individual was a student at Beal.
During a media briefing on Tuesday, regional medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie said the student’s infection remains the only case of COVID-19 among schools in London and Middlesex County.
“There’s no evidence that this was acquired at Beal, so no evidence of transmission within the school,” said Mackie.
“Everything that we’ve observed, from the actions of the school to observing the school grounds, indicates that Beal is a safe place for high school students and there is no reason at all for people to discontinue attendance at that school.”
Mackie said health officials reached out to 10 to 15 people within the Beal community who were identified as close contacts of the infected student.
“We don’t have a link to an additional COVID-19 case. We are investigating a number of potential sources, but that hasn’t been nailed down and it’s quite possible that we might not be able to identify the initial source in this case,” said Mackie.
Mackie added that the infected student is “faring well” and does not require hospitalization. While health officials are early in their investigation, Mackie said they are not expecting any additional cases related to the student’s infection.
Grayson Bennett, a student in a fifth-year specialty program at Beal, told Global News before the morning bell on Tuesday that he hopes everybody who needs to get tested is following up on that obligation.
Bennett added that he still feels safe at Beal.
“I’m just fortunate for my situation because in my program, I’m in contact with three people, but I know most classes are obviously more than that,” Bennett said.
“I know they have made (classes) smaller, but there’s only so much you can do.”
Grade 9 student Ahmad Fandi expressed concern and said he was a little bit worried about coming to school on Tuesday.
“We very were scared,” Fandi said.
“If it’s one case … it’s going to be two, four, and I think they should shut down schools again. They should make it online.”
John Bernans, the local district president for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the union that represents a number of high school teachers in TVDSB, said a case among schools in the region was to be expected.
“If it’s circulating in the community, it certainly is going to end up in the schools, sooner or later,” Bernans said.
While the region’s only school-related case remains exclusive to Beal, Bernans said teachers from all over his district have been expressing coronavirus concerns.
These concerns relate to delivery issues relating to personal protective equipment and a lack of hand sanitizer, according to Bernans.
Bernans added that teachers have also expressed concerns about the hybrid learning model the province has mandated them to adopt.
“Some of the students are at home and some of the students are in class and somehow the teacher needs to deliver in both venues at the same,” Bernans said.
“That, of course, is going to create problems for both teachers and students.”
The infection at Beal comes as London and Middlesex County deal with three community outbreaks of COVID-19.
The first two outbreaks, reported last week, are associated with gatherings involving Western University students.
The third outbreak, declared on Friday, came after three employees at a Walmart in northeast London tested positive for the novel coronavirus.View link »