Bradford school with 12 active COVID cases: ‘We don’t feel it’s necessary to close the school,’ says the region’s top doctor

Rapid COVID-19 tests are not being used at the school

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has no immediate plans to close a Bradford elementary school that as of Wednesday was dealing with 12 active cases of COVID-19.

An outbreak at St. Marie of the Incarnation was declared on Oct. 1.

The outbreak has resulted in the closure of five classrooms.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner was asked at a media briefing on Wednesday whether there was a threshold that would force his hand to order the school closed.

“So far we’ve got a pretty good handle on the nature of where it’s clustered and who is involved with other clusters, and who is involved with other clusters within a certain cohort or otherwise siblings,” said Gardner. “We don’t feel it’s necessary to close the school.”

Gardner said the health unit is using the more traditional approach of identifying contacts by isolating them through the school and having them tested using PCR, which he added is a much more sensitive test than the rapid antigen test.

He said rapid COVID tests are something for the health unit to consider but at this point, they are not doing it.

Ontario announced on Tuesday that rapid COVD-19 tests will be offered to some child-care settings and schools.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said local public health units will have discretion in requiring the tests, and added, based on several key factors like the level of virus transmission and vaccination rate in the community where the school is based, and the history of COVID-19 in a particular school or child-care facility.

Tests will only be provided to unvaccinated, asymptomatic children who are not considered high-risk contacts of a positive COVID-19 case, Moore said.