Over 40 students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since elementary schools in Quebec outside of the Montreal area reopened on May 11, the province’s education department confirmed.
A survey — which includes 60 out of the 72 school boards in Quebec — found that 19 students and 22 staff members contracted the virus in the first two weeks following the reopening.
The majority of cases were situated in the Laurentians and Monteregie regions just outside of Montreal.
An estimated 58 per cent of students have returned to school, amounting to well over 100,000 students across the province.
Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda said that the province expects to have some new cases as schools reopen, and that the situation is under control.
“It’s normal that by having the daycare, the school being open to the community, there can be cases,” he said, per CTV News. “The advantage in those areas is that they’re young children and we didn’t put any personnel who was high-risk (in the schools).”
High schools, junior colleges and universities in Quebec will remain closed until at least September, with McGill University now planning to conduct its fall semester primarily online.
All Montreal schools will also remain closed until September, although the city has been given the green light to host day camps this summer, should they choose to do so.
British Columbia and Manitoba will also reopen schools in June on an optional, part-time basis, in the hopes of returning to a full-time class schedule in September.
B.C. will stagger lunch breaks, pick-up times and recesses in a bid to limit the spread of the virus, and teachers are encouraged to emphasize the importance of hand hygiene to students.
Education Minister Rob Fleming said that there will be a “regular, rigorous cleaning schedule for high-contact surfaces” including doorknobs, washrooms and keyboards.
Most other provinces in Canada have now confirmed that schools will remain closed to students until next September, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, which has reopened them to students who need individualized support.
Quebec continues to be the province hardest hit by the pandemic in Canada, reporting over 50,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 4,300 deaths as of Friday.