The Gleaner
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Situation in schools under control; cases remain high

COVID-19 case counts in area schools were beginning to show signs that the situation was stabilizing toward the end of this past week, after spiking earlier in the month.

New Frontiers School Board director general Rob Buttars confirms that while absences directly related to declared positive tests were high amongst students and staff, they are trending downward.

Two weeks ago, there were as many as 124 cases in the student population, while 19 staff members were in isolation due to a positive result from either a PCR or rapid test. As of April 13, the number of positive cases within students had dropped to 89, with 15 staff in isolation.

The board-wide absenteeism rate was 3.7 per cent, where 2 per cent of those absent had tested positive. At least 1.7 per cent of those not in school were in isolation at home.

Despite the numbers, Buttars says the situation is manageable. Several schools are reporting no cases, and only Howard S. Billings High School and Mary Gardener Elementary School in Chateauguay were reporting more than five cases.

Buttars says he will be closely monitoring the situation following the Easter long weekend to see if the numbers trend upwards once more. He acknowledges the sixth wave has been hard on the students and especially on staff, who are having to cope with a “revolving door of student absences.” He says this makes planning especially difficult, and he credits teachers for their ability to be strategic in ensuring they cover what is essential in their classes.

Local statistics

The vaccination rate has increased incrementally in the area, with 49.4 per cent of those eligible for a third dose having received the booster. A fourth dose is now recommended for at-risk groups and those aged 60 and up.

Hospitalizations have increased over the last four weeks. As of April 13, there were four patients admitted to the Barrie Memorial Hospital in Ormstown, 39 at the Suroît Hospital in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield including 4 in the ICU, and 55 at the Anna Laberge Hospital in Chateauguay, where one patient was being treated in intensive care. 

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