Fourth positive test at Pembroke high school

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit says a fourth member of staff at Fellowes High School in Pembroke has tested positive for COVID-19.

The health unit said the individual was a contact of the three other staff members who previously tested positive beginning last Friday.

Fellowes became the first school in Ontario to be closed for a COVID-19 outbreak after the third staff member tested positive Wednesday.

The health unit said it had deemed the fourth person a “probable case” which factored into the decision to close the school on September 16.

“This individual did not have any further exposures beyond the classes that have already been identified for testing and the staff member who became symptomatic last week has not been at school this week.” the health unit said in a statement Thursday night.

“The good news is that RCDHU has received negative test results for some staff and for all but 2 of the students in the original class that was exposed to the staff cases; these 2 tests have yet to be reported.

“This afternoon RCDHU tested 98 individuals, 83 staff and 15 students. Almost all the staff from the school were tested along with most of the students considered to be at highest risk.”

The health unit said there will be further testing Friday for the remaining staff and students that could not attend today.

“RCDHU will continue to update the school community and the public daily.

“In the meantime, RCDHU asks everyone to rigorously observe public health precautions” including limiting social activities, practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

“We all have COVID-19 fatigue, but this is a marathon and we are in a key phase with new challenges,” Dr. Robert Cushman, acting medical officer of health for Renfrew County and District, said Wednesday after ordering the school closed.

“If we want schools to stay open and the economy to progress, we must recognize that individual vigilance and strict observance of public health measures are imperative.

“This is not the time to let down our guard but rather just the opposite.”

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