2 Quebec Teachers Test Positive for COVID-19, 20 in Quarantine

August 28, 2020 Updated: August 29, 2020

About 20 teachers from a Quebec high school are now in quarantine after two teachers tested positive for COVID-19.

The positive results came after teachers from Deux-Montagnes High School went  to the school on Aug. 21 to prepare the class reopening on Aug. 27.

The first teacher tested positive shortly after the teachers arrived, and the second  on Aug. 26, Melanie Poirier from the Commission scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Mille-Îles (CSSMI), told CTV News on Friday, Aug. 27.

“We wrote to the parents to let them know we put about 20 teachers in quarantine [during] the time they get tested,” Poirier said. “We’ve asked for 14 days of isolation, and those 14 days started last Friday when the teachers came into school.”

Poirier said the decision was made by the Laurentians’ Integrated Health and Social Service Centre.

According to CSSMI spokeswoman Anik Gagnon, the quarantine forces the school to inform about 500 Grade 10 and 11 students to stay home on Friday as no teacher is available to teach them.

Meanwhile, the CSSMI is exploring recruiting substitute teachers or having the quarantined teachers give lessons to their students via videoconference. It hopes that students can return to school on Monday before the teachers’ quarantine ends on Sept. 4.

“We’re confident for Monday that we’ll have people in place to replace those who are absent,” said Poirier, if they opt for the substitute option.

Quebec Premier François Legault said that while the situation the school faces is challenging, it as “very small number compared to the million children going back to school.”

Sylvain Mallette, president of a federation of teachers’ unions, the Federation autonome de l’enseignement, said the incident emphasizes the need for schools to have quick access to COVID-19 testing.

“The question is, how long did it take to get access to a test, and how long to get the results of the test?” Mallette said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

He said the Quebec government has not followed through on its promise that  teachers will have quicker access to COVID-19 testing and results.

Another school in Quebec is also experiencing an infection. On Thursday, a Grade 7 class of 35 children at Collège Français Annexe Secondaire in Longueuil was sent home after a parent was tested positive for COVID-19. However, Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said the school management paid attention to safety measures and it wasn’t necessary to send the entire class home.

Epoch Times Photo
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam holds a press conference in Ottawa on Aug. 28, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

As of Friday, Quebec is reducing the mandatory isolation period from 14 days to 10 days.

“If we think that in 10 days there’s no danger for others we won’t leave people who have been sick for more days at home when it’s not necessary,” said Dr. Harocio Arruda, director of public health.

However, those who are immunocompromised or who need hospitalization for COVID-19 will still have to be isolated for at least 14 days, the authorities said.

“Our recommendation is, based on the evolving science, those who have experienced 10 days post onset of symptoms, asymptomatic, no fever, can come out of the actual isolation,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.