Staff and leadership with the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board are doing all they can to protect students and staff at Open Roads Public School in Dryden, after a case of COVID-19 was confirmed on Monday.

Director of Education Sherri-Lynne Pharand says the affected classroom was quickly closed as it undergoes deep cleaning measures.

Pharand says the board was notified of the exposure on Monday and the case was announced that evening. Families were notified, and potential contacts of the case have been reached by staff with the Northwestern Health Unit, as contact tracing promptly began.

As of November 18, the entire class will begin learning virtually for the foreseeable future, until the NWHU gives them the clear to return. It’s expected to be 14 days or less, but Pharand says it’s too early in the health unit’s response to offer an exact time-line.

Pharand says this is normal procedure, as the entire class is considered the affected student or staff member’s cohort. Due to NWHU protocols, they do not release exact information on identity, and it is not confirmed whether the case was a student or staff member.

Staff and students who were not contacted by the NWHU can continue to attend school as usual, and they are asked to self-monitor themselves for any symptoms of COVID-19.

“It’s because of our safety precautions, student cohorting, hand hygiene, masking, social distancing and all of those different pieces, that students and staff can still attend school as usual. The health unit will contact you directly if there is any reason that you need to be tested or to self-isolate,” explained Pharand.

Now over three months into the return of school, Pharand says students and staff have been able to adjust to the new safety protocols and safety measures to help keep the school community as safe as possible.

“In September, students were really happy to see one another. It had been a long time since March and everyone was happy to see each other.”

“There was some nervousness as everyone was learning the new protocols and routines, but as I’ve been talking with principals and visiting schools over the last few weeks, it’s just part of our routine now.”

“School is carrying on, students are excited about their learning, which we’ve been able to do outside, and kids are having fun and learning.”

“Is it an ongoing, stressful thing? Yes, it’s in the background for everybody. Not just schools, for communities as well. It’s always there, but our school leaders are doing such a great job with helping students understand, take it seriously and how to mitigate the risks.”

“We’ll continue to do everything that we can, and we ask the community to do all they can to help support us. Schools are a reflection of their community, and if COVID is in the community, it will be in the schools as well.”

All residents are asked to assume COVID-19 is spreading within your community, and to always practice preventative health measures such as social distancing, wearing a mask, hand hygiene, not touching your face and staying home if you’re sick.

For more information:
COVID-19 exposure at Open Roads
Haime details COVID-19 response at St. Louis