First elementary school in Ontario closes after students, staff test positive for COVID-19

The first elementary school in Ontario has closed after two staff members and two students tested positive for COVID-19.

Parents with children at Monsignor Paul Baxter School in Ottawa’s Barrhaven neighbourhood were notified about the closure on Saturday.

Fellowes High School in Pembroke, Ont., became the first school in the province to close because of an outbreak of COVID-19 after staff members tested positive last week.

“Please know that we take our direction from Ottawa Public Health,” Mark Kennedy, principal of Monsignor Paul Baxter, said in a letter to parents. “We have been working closely with OPH since we learned of our first confirmed positive test result of COVID-19.”

Public health officials have notified parents, guardians and school staff of the positive tests. Close contacts of the individuals have also been contacted and will be provided further instruction about how and when to be tested, among other actions to take. 

School will remain closed for approximately 14 days

Monsignor Paul Baxter will remain closed for approximately 14 days, according to the Ottawa Catholic School Board. 

“Of course, we all want to do everything we can to help ensure our students’ and staff’s safety,” Kennedy wrote in the letter.

While the school remains closed, the principal said since the vast majority of students are healthy, the school wants them to continue learning online while at home.  

The board isn’t sharing information about the individuals who tested positive, citing privacy concerns.  

A spokesperson from Ontario’s Ministry of Education confirmed Monsignor Paul Baxter is the first elementary school in the province to close.