Staff and students at Toronto elementary school may have been exposed to COVID-19

Mar 9 2020, 1:33 pm

A letter sent to staff and students at Whitney Junior Public School from Dr. Eileen de Villa at Toronto Public Health has advised them of potential exposure to COVID-19.

The letter, provided to Daily Hive from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), states that it is informing staff and students that they may have been exposed to someone who has coronavirus.

“This individual attended the school on March 4, 2020 and did not have symptoms on that day. Therefore the risk to the school community is low,” said Dr. de Villa in the letter, issued on March 8.

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, or pneumonia. These viruses are spread through respiratory droplets when a person who has the virus coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu and other respiratory illnesses are spread.”

The letter continues by explaining the symptoms of COVID-19, and how it may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure and may include: fever (>38 degrees Celsius), new onset of cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, chills, malaise, sore throat, and/or diarrhea.

“Please monitor yourself over the next 14 days (until March 18, 2020) for these symptoms. If you are well and have no symptoms of respiratory illness, and do not receive a call from Toronto Public Health (TPH), then you do not need to seek healthcare,” said Dr. de Villa.

It is unclear who the individual is, and Toronto Public Health did not say whether it is a staff or student.

“To protect people’s privacy, we do not share personal health information externally,” the public health agency told Daily Hive in a statement. “As we are notified of cases of COVID-19, we carefully evaluate them individually and follow up immediately with these people to connect directly with them and to identify their close contacts.”

At this time, the TDSB also told Daily Hive that in general, the board’s caretaking staff “are doing enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces (e.g. handrails, doorknobs, push plates, etc.) around schools as part of their regular duties.”

The letter concludes by telling staff and students that if they develop symptoms of COVID-19, to contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, the local public health department, or your primary care provider’s office.