Classes are back to normal this week for Miniota School after students went to remote learning for two weeks following an outbreak of COVID-19.
The quarantine period was projected to end this past week, Monday, Oct. 18 at the earliest, if all went well and no one else became ill. And that’s just what did happen in Miniota.
The entire town has been quiet since Covid became a concern last year, including the seniors’ drop-in and it was extra quiet in early October.
Reeve Linda Clark says that with the recent cases, it seemed that everyone took the situation seriously. “My street is usually busy with children, but families stayed in their own yard. All generations were concerned for our children and school staff and acted accordingly.”
In a Q & A, Superintendent for Park West School Division Stephen David breaks down the events of what Manitoba health officials termed an outbreak at Miniota School:
Where did the infections begin?
- There was a single confirmed case on Saturday, Oct. 2. Another case was reported late on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 3. By Wednesday, Oct. 6 it was up to nine total cases which included one staff member. Given the case total and the fact that four of the five classrooms had positive cases, Public Health made the decision to shift the school to remote learning.
How did the discovery of COVID-19 infection play out?
- From the initial positive case on the Saturday, there were eight close contacts. The second positive case the next day had four more close contacts. Additional cases were confirmed from Monday to Wednesday of the same week. For each positive case, close contacts were identified and required to isolate and get tested as directed by Public Health.
- Public Health declared the outbreak over on Oct. 16 and students returned from remote learning on Oct. 18.
Were there ever more than nine cases for Miniota School?
- On Oct. 12, the case count rose to 11 in total, nine students and two staff members. The last two cases were reported after the school went into remote learning.
Birtle is just up the road and kids belonging to a family may attend both schools. Are there other schools in the PWSD division currently with COVID-19?
- Currently there are no other confirmed cases in our school division. In fact, the only cases to date in the division have been the 11 at Miniota School. The positive case on Oct. 2 was the first one for the school since the pandemic began.
How many people ended up with symptoms?
- I am not sure of that number because we do not know who may have developed symptoms during the period of remote learning. Public Health reports positive cases and close contacts. They do not report whether individuals are displaying symptoms. Also, several of the positive cases were asymptomatic. What we do know in the end was that we reached 11 positive cases, including nine students, and 52 close contacts.
What else stands out in this situation?
- The principal and staff at Miniota School did an outstanding job, both in terms of dealing with the initial positive cases and then providing remote learning to students. Everyone with whom we dealt at Public Health was supportive and responsive. We are also grateful for the guidance provided by the COVID unit at Manitoba Education. Finally, the patience and understanding of parents and guardians made a challenging situation much easier.