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Back to school: The whole family isolated for at least 48 hours during symptoms

When returning to class on Monday, a student who has symptoms must isolate themselves at home for at least 48 hours, like the other members of their family.

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This is the strategy advocated by public health authorities to prevent the virus from circulating from school to the rest of the community, by quickly “closing” the family bubble, explained the Dr Yves Jalbert, Deputy Director General of Public Health during a technical briefing with the media, Friday morning.

“In our measures, we focus much more on prevention at the family level,” he said. The strategy also aims to limit the entry of the virus into schools as much as possible.

In order for the family to come out of isolation, the child who has symptoms must have received two negative results on two rapid tests in 48 hours.

A positive child will be able to return to class if they test negative on a rapid test after five days of isolation, if their symptoms have improved and if they have not had a fever for at least 24 hours.

However, it has not been clarified whether the isolation instruction of at least 48 hours in the event of symptoms will also apply to children who have only one symptom, such as a runny nose.

Not a high place of transmission

The Dr Jalbert also repeated, as had done the Dr Luc Boileau Thursday, that schools do not represent “important sites” of transmission, which is rather linked to what is happening in the community.

“What we have learned about children is that they are not very good transmitters of the disease. What we have observed in the school environment is much more transmission from teachers to students than the other way around, ”he said.

In December, nearly 50% of the outbreaks in the province, however, were listed in schools, where more than 1,000 classes were closed due to the presence of at least two positive cases in the same group.

However, Dr. Jalbert specifies that several cases in the same group do not necessarily mean that the students have infected each other at school.

“What we observe, in general, is that this is not what happens. These are people who caught the disease outside, who go to school with the virus” and who find themselves in the same class, he said.

Transmission within the school exists, but the Dr Jalbert adds that “we have not demonstrated that there is a very significant phenomenon of amplification of transmission as we might have feared”.

In addition, no specific instructions will be given to the school network regarding meal times, when students will remove their masks to eat. Physical distancing should be maintained as much as possible, but public health authorities are well aware that such a rule is simply not applicable in the school setting.

“We are going to live with this risk of children eating without a mask at school,” said the Dr Jalbert, while insisting on the beneficial effects for children of returning to class.