Will my school close because of COVID-19? - By Felicia
If restaurants are closing in Quebec because of COVID-19, why is it still safe for schools to be open? Isn’t it better to close schools? Isn’t it safer?
Well, the goal is to keep schools open whenever possible.
Schools are “more important” than restaurants, said Dr. Caroline Quach, an infectious disease specialist, who’s based at the Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal.
Health officials want kids to continue to go to school in real life and not online, she said, because “that's where you are going to learn. Much more than sitting in your house” and doing lessons online.
That’s clearly a different message than the one we were hearing in March, when schools shut down across the country as a way to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
But we know a lot more about the coronavirus now than we did then, which meant officials could plan and prepare for the new school year.
Usually, one case of COVID-19 in a school isn’t enough to shut down the whole building, said Dr. Vinita Dubey, Toronto's associate medical officer of health.
Instead, kids might be sent home if they were on the same bus, in the same classroom or had recess with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.
They would also be asked to self-isolate if they were in close contact with that person.
That way, health officials can contain the spread of the virus and allow as many healthy kids as possible to stay in school.
Sometimes it can be hard for officials to figure out who should stay home and who can still be in class.
That can be even harder if there is more than one person at school who has tested positive for COVID-19, especially if they’re in different classes.
If it’s unclear who else has been infected and how the virus is spreading, Dubey said, officials may decide to shut down a whole school so they can investigate further.
Health officials say it’s important for kids to follow rules like physical distancing and hand washing to avoid spreading COVID-19 in their schools.
It’s possible that we’ll see widespread school closures again, Dubey said, the way we did back in March.
That could happen if the number of COVID-19 cases keeps rising.
But that would only happen if all other measures failed.
At this point, the goal seems to be to keep kids in classrooms wherever possible.