As the number of COVID-19 cases in the Montérégie region continues to grow, the New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) has confirmed that no member of their respective communities has tested positive for the coronavirus. The school board has been in contact with the provincial public health authority several times per week since the start of this crisis, and director general Rob Buttars suggests that “it would be a violation of protocol” if the board and the principal of the affected school were not informed of a positive test result. Neither the board or any of its principals have been contacted by public health officials.
Unfortunately, unfounded rumours that would suggest otherwise have circulated after the return of students from Chateauguay Valley Regional High School (CVR) and Billings High School (BHS) from trips to Europe. Worse, the institutions and even some of the students have been targeted by erroneous and less than friendly messages on social media.
A total of 18 students and two adults from BHS returned on March 6, while 27 CVR students and 11 adults returned on March 8. As the context surrounding the COVID-19 preventive measures evolved, both high school principals were asked by the NFSB to contact Info-Santé with the itinerary of their respective groups upon landing. Info-Santé gave the green light to attend regular activities as the destinations visited were not high risk at the time. Those who were abroad as part of the school trips have now completed the 14-day self-isolation period requested by the government and presumably would have shown symptoms by this time if ever they had been exposed to and infected with the virus.
“It is truly a shame that such unfounded rumours are being propagated carelessly. Thus far, CVR has not been informed of any COVID-19 positive testing by Quebec public health officials,” reiterates CVR principal Brigitte Barrette.
“These hard times call for collaboration, unity and solidarity. When on social media, it is paramount that people consider facts and avoid speculation as they can instil unnecessary apprehension based on rumour,” says Barrette, who suggests that in the long run, this type of action is counterproductive and potentially damaging to our community.