Update on cases linked to Westwood Primary School and Eliot River Elementary School; Daily Testing for School Contacts protocol implemented

Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, has announced that a new Daily Testing for School Contacts protocol will be implemented in relation to recent cases linked to Westwood Primary School and Eliot River Elementary School. 

“It is important to note that this protocol applies specifically to this situation as we are not dealing with an outbreak, it will be adjusted as necessary based on situation and risk,” said Dr. Morrison. “This protocol allows asymptomatic children who are close contacts to safely attend school and benefit from in-class learning, as well as extracurricular activities. This protocol minimizes disruption for families and communities.” 

Four new cases of COVID-19 were announced late last evening, two of the cases are linked to Westwood Primary School and Eliot River Elementary School. 

Effective tomorrow, based on a risk assessment by public health, a Daily Testing for School Contacts protocol will be implemented for asymptomatic close contacts at the school. This protocol allows children to attend school if they receive a negative test result and are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. To be eligible for the protocol, a child must have been exposed to COVID-19 at school and have at least one negative lab-based PCR test. All asymptomatic close contacts will be tested each morning with a rapid antigen test and have a negative result before going to school or participating in activities. Children who are close contacts must provide their negative test to school staff for verification. Those participating in the protocol must have one more PCR test on Friday, November 12 or Saturday, November 13 and then resume daily rapid antigen tests until November 17 (including on weekends). Only children who have been contacted by public health and identified as close contacts need to follow the daily testing protocol. 

If a child tests preliminary positive on the rapid antigen screening test, the child should self-isolate with a parent or guardian until they receive a negative result from a PCR test at one of the drop-in clinics. 

If a parent or guardian does not do daily testing, the child will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the last contact with the positive case, until November 17.

If a child develops any symptoms of COVID-19 they should not attend school or participate in extracurricular activities, and they should get tested at a Health PEI testing clinic. 

Parents and guardians can pick up a supply of rapid antigen tests today at Westwood Primary School or Eliot River Elementary School today before 6:00 pm. 

There are 60 close contacts identified, the majority of which are school contacts. Last evening, most of the close contacts of the cases, including schoolmates, were contacted and advised to be tested at one of the Health PEI testing clinics today. The remining close contacts were contacted this morning. 

As public health investigated, children who travelled on Bus 81 to or from Westwood Primary School on Wednesday, November 3 were not identified as close contacts. These children are asked to be tested today and then monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. 

Based on initial test results, this is not a school-based outbreak, but rather isolated cases in two schools. The source of the outbreak is known, and it related to travel outside of PEI. The exposure risk is low, given the cases only attended school on one day (Wednesday, November 3) and their interactions on this day are known. Additionally, all schools have been operating in Elevated Risk mode that includes enhanced public health measures requiring enhanced cleaning, cohorting of students, and masking. 

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should visit a drop-in testing clinic or if a child is experiencing one mild symptom of COVID-19, an at-home screening test can be used. At-home screening test kits will be available for pick up tomorrow at Westwood Primary and Eliot River Elementary, as well as at Access PEI locations across the province for parents and guardians of children in K-6. 

Prince Edward Island currently has seven active cases of COVID-19 and has had 324 positive cases since the pandemic began.

As always, all Islanders are urged to get tested if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19, even after a previous negative test, and to self-isolate until the results come back. Islanders are also encouraged to download the free national COVID Alert app, which will let them know if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Anyone age 12 and over can receive their COVID-19 vaccination at one of the Health PEI clinics or at one of the 28 partner pharmacies across the province.  

For information on PEI’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including vaccine facts, immunization data and booking an appointment, visit: COVID-19 Vaccines. For answers to commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit: Answers to Common COVID-19 Vaccine Questions.

For the latest information about Prince Edward Island’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit: COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Prince Edward Island. 

The Chief Public Health Office continues to work closely with the federal government, provincial and territorial counterparts, government departments and Health PEI to monitor the pandemic situation and prepare for all COVID-19 related impacts to the province, including health, social and economic. The public health risk of COVID-19 is continually reassessed, and Islanders will be updated as new information becomes available.

Everyone is encouraged to follow routine prevention measures:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue
  • Get vaccinated
  • Wear a non-medical mask in indoor places
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well
  • Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Keep your circle of contacts small
  • Physical distance - stay two meters (6 feet) apart
  • Don’t share items like drinking glasses and water bottles
  • Frequently clean surfaces like taps, doorknobs and countertops
  • Visit a drop-in-clinic to be tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Media Contact:
Samantha Hughes
Health and Wellness

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