What happens when a COVID-19 case is detected at a TDSB school?

Click to play video: 'GTA mother seeks clarity on COVID-19 cases in schools'
GTA mother seeks clarity on COVID-19 cases in schools
WATCH ABOVE: As parents continue to deal with the stress of a school year rife with disruptions, questions are being raised over how positive COVID-19 diagnoses are being communicated, and the safety of students. Shallima Maharaj reports. – Mar 31, 2021

Shafreen Munjee’s little boys have been homebound for the past few days after she says she learned about a positive case of COVID-19 in one of their classes.

Her eldest son is five years old and is currently enrolled at a Toronto public school.

On Saturday, she said she was informed there was a positive, confirmed COVID-19 case in his class, and they were instructed to isolate. Munjee said she went on to contact Toronto Public Health.

“They told me to isolate my older child, who is five,” she recalled.

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“My husband and I, however, could go to work, which I found quite strange.”

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Then on Monday, she said she received an email from her son’s principal, stating that public health had investigated and found the child who tested positive was not a risk to the school community.

“That’s, I think, what’s lacking here. There’s not a full explanation of how someone tests positive and then you can say they’re not putting your child at risk,” said Munjee.

“Even though they were in the same school, in the same classroom with them, for a minimum of two days.”

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Global News reached out to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) for comment on the process.

“It’s not always possible to provide exact information, such as this person is coming back as a result of these reasons,” said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird.

“We do have to balance not only making sure that parents are informed … but also with the privacy of that specific student or staff member.”

In an email statement, Toronto Public Health (TPH) explained that each case is assigned to an investigator, who is tasked with interviewing the individual who tested positive.

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TPH staff then work to determine where they could have acquired the infection, and who they could have spread it to.

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Public health would also look to pinpoint when it is safe for a cohort to return to class.

Currently, it is believed the infectious period for person with COVID-19 is 10 days following the onset of symptoms.

In the case of someone who is infected, but does not display any symptoms, it would be based on 10 days from when their COVID-19 test was conducted.

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“When investigations can be done relatively quickly, we can inform the community quickly,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa.

“There are other times when the investigations are more complex.”

De Villa went on to say what public health often does in cases where determinations can’t be made quickly is to work with school boards to mitigate the risk to others, and that may require dismissing a cohort or the entire school.

She said there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and it is based on the circumstances they’re faced with in each situation.

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