COVID impacts community

Reston community experienced it last November, Virden in April, and in the past couple of weeks Hamiota has seen well over 100 people self-isolating, following COVID-19 protocol.

To date, checking with FLBSD, no recent cases have occurred in the division.

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A couple of students testing positive within Hamiota Collegiate (HCI) meant dozens of household isolations within the community and surrounding area. Hamiota schools serve students in Kenton and Prairie View Municipality as well.

HCI went into COVID-19 response mode on Monday, May 10, when two students had tested positive for the virus. Because of close contact tracing including siblings, some 70 students and staff went into self-isolation.

Add the parents and you see a large impact on a community where people cannot attend work for a number of days until tests come back negative. Healthcare, hog barns, child care and education are major employers in the area, along with agriculture and ag-related services.

When there are confirmed cases, household members or close contacts of a person with COVID-19 must immediately go into self-isolation (quarantine) for 14 days from the last date of exposure.

School Principal Bruce Coulter said, “We haven’t heard back from all (self-isolating), but we’ve heard from a number who have gone and got tested and they’re negative.”

Overall, four students at Hamiota have tested positive.

Coulter is hoping for a return to normal in-school learning for HCI students and their siblings in the younger grades next Tuesday, May 25; all depending upon test results of those who quarantined.

“It’s been a whirlwind the last couple of weeks,” he said. “Thankfully these were our first real cases of students that attend our school. I was inexperienced at the time. Fortunately, we had a tool kit that the government gave us of steps to follow. Stephen David (superintendent) was very helpful through all this. He’s dealt with this through other schools.

“The two public health nurses that I’ve dealt with have been exceptionally helpful as well. It’s been as smooth as can be expected.”

According to the dashboard, schools in Winnipeg and Brandon were placed on remote learning, along with others in the province where positive cases warranted. The principal said Hamiota was not mandated for remote learning, but because there were so many required to self-isolate plus their siblings, he says, “We had a chunk of our school population at home. Some chose to stay home because of nervousness, that’s understandable. Teachers have juggled that well, to keep everybody engaged.”

Indeed, looking on the Manitoba dashboard, school COVID news shows just a few other cases mid-May throughout the Park West division including at Strathclair and Major Pratt in Russell.

The dashboard doesn’t tell the story. A few cases can cut a wide swath, requiring significant numbers to quarantine.

However, instead of the virus running rampant throughout the school and then the community, only a few seem to get ill. We have inconvenience, even hardship with isolation, but not an entire community down sick. 

© Virden Empire-Advance