PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES CONTACT TRACING, CASE MANAGEMENT GUIDANCE FOR SCHOOLS

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News from Broadway

Public health officials are updating guidance for contact tracing and case management in Manitoba schools as the omicron variant continues to spread across the province, Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

“As public health officials study the omicron variant and continue to learn more about it, they advise we need to change how we respond to COVID-19 both in the community and in schools,” said Cullen. “The changes public health has recommended to case and contact management in schools will ensure continued monitoring of the risk in individual schools as we learn to live with the virus.”

Moving forward, schools will no longer provide close contact notification and notification letters on individual cases but will provide reports of absenteeism through their regular notification channels to their school community.

Schools will monitor staff and student absenteeism rates and self-reported COVID-19 cases. In addition, public health will continue to report confirmed cases through the online dashboard and monitor confirmed cases in schools for evidence of increased transmission above levels expected in the community. When there is increased COVID-19 activity based on absenteeism, case counts or operational concerns, public health will investigate and provide recommendations to school officials.

In situations where public health determines increased transmission may be occurring in a school, they may recommend the implementation of a period of rapid antigen testing or other preventive measures in school, such as reducing higher-risk activities. Where transmission continues to increase or where COVID-19 cases are affecting school operations, a seven-day period of remote learning for the class, cohort or school may be recommended by public health. 

“The omicron variant isn’t going to go away and we need to learn to live with the virus. This means adjusting our mindset from trying to contain the virus to trying to mitigate our risk,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “Public health officials will also continue to monitor cases in schools and work with schools to track absenteeism rates for staff and students. This will help us target measures like rapid antigen testing programs and remote learning to specific schools as needed, rather than all having measures apply to all schools in a region.”

Students or staff who test positive on a PCR test or rapid antigen test, or suspect they have COVID-19, are required to follow public health isolation protocols and are strongly encouraged to notify the school. School staff and students should attend a test site if they have signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Students and staff who are exposed at school can continue to attend as long as they are asymptomatic. Household close contacts who are exempt from isolation but have a case in their household are encouraged to use rapid tests to monitor for asymptomatic transmission, as household contact remains the highest-risk setting for transmission.

Full Article here: https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/?archive=&item=53183