Forty-one staff and students have tested positive for COVID-19 in Quebec since it opened its elementary schools on May 11, the province’s education department confirmed to The Canadian Press on Friday.
A survey, conducted on May 25, revealed that 19 students and 22 staff members have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Their infections were identified throughout the first two weeks that elementary schools reopened across the province, with the exception of Montreal.
The Laurentians and Monteregie regions, which are located north and southeast of Montreal, had the highest number of cases with 10 each.
The survey didn’t include statistics from 12 of Quebec’s 72 school boards, because they did not provide data.
Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, said on Thursday the cases have not led to any “significant negative impacts.”
“It’s normal that by having the daycare, the school being open to the community, there can be cases. …The advantage in those areas is that they’re young children, and we didn’t put any personnel who was high-risk [in the classroom].”
A school in Trois-Rivières, École Saint-Paul, had to close for several days, but reopened Wednesday, after four teachers and two students tested positive. Arruda said that he believes some of the teachers had become infected before returning to schools.
One other school about 50 kilometres west of Montreal also identified multiple cases, but the rest of the patients are spread throughout the province.
In early May, Quebec officials said that people under the age of 70 are able to return to work without “significant risk.” High schools, CEGEPs and post-secondary institutions will remain closed till the end of August, along with all schools in Montreal as the spread of COVID-19 continues.
A spokesman for Quebec’s education department said that about 51 per cent of private school students and 46 per cent of public school students returned to class the week of May 11. There were about 200,000 students who were eligible to return, according to The Globe and Mail.
In other provinces, Ontario has cancelled classes for the rest of the school year, while children can start going to school voluntarily in British Columbia on June 1.