His family did everything right, but they still caught COVID-19 amid an outbreak at school


An Ottawa woman says she is frustrated and furious after her entire family contracted COVID-19 amid a recent outbreak at school, despite all possible precautions against the virus.

CBC agreed not to name the woman or her family members, or to reveal certain details that could identify them, including the woman’s workplace, as she feared speaking could jeopardize her career.

“We are a family who feel that we have done everything right,” the woman said in a telephone interview from her home earlier this week.

It’s like we’ve got past this monster for 19 months, and none of it really mattered anyway because now he’s here on the doorstep.

“We’re very frustrated to be in this position, because it feels like we’ve been past this monster for 19 months, and none of that really mattered anyway because now he’s here on the doorstep.”

The woman’s daughters, six and nine, attend St. Benedict Catholic School in the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven. The elementary school was temporarily closed last week amid a COVID-19 outbreak involving at least 35 cases. (Three elementary schools in Ottawa are now closed due to outbreaks, including one on Monday.)

The previous Friday, the woman’s younger daughter started complaining that her head and body ached, and then she developed a deep cough. Over the next two days, the 38-year-old woman, her 40-year-old husband and their nine-year-old daughter also became ill with various symptoms, including fever, congestion and diarrhea.

“It’s not like you’re slowly getting really sick and slowly recovering,” the woman said. “Every day some symptoms may go away completely, then others come on. And these may last for a day or two – then these are gone and the others are back.”

The woman’s daughters attend St. Benedict Catholic School in Ottawa’s Barrhaven neighborhood, where at least 35 cases have now been linked to an outbreak of COVID-19. (Francis Ferland / CBC)

Double-vaccinated couple

The woman and her husband have been doubly vaccinated against COVID-19 and have been for months.

Nonetheless, within days of the onset of their symptoms, all four family members tested positive. The couple are now part of a growing number of so-called “breakthrough” infections in Canada.

This is despite taking “a great deal of caution,” the woman said. The family have had limited contact with others, wear close-fitting N95 masks wherever they go, and wash their hands religiously.

But because her job requires her to be out of the house every day of the week and her husband, although working from home, is too busy to supervise their daughters’ schooling, the family has had no other choice. choice than to send the girls back to school in September, the woman said.

She said her youngest daughter, who just started first grade, often complained that her classmates didn’t always distance themselves or wear their masks properly and talk over lunch despite the rules.

“It’s like we can’t protect our children, even though we’ve tried to do everything right,” the woman said. “And it’s really a [terrible] feel for a parent. “

The province has “failed miserably”

She doesn’t blame the school, the board, or even local public health officials, but rather the province.

“I put the health of my family in their hands, and I feel like they have failed miserably,” she said. “I find it hard to believe that there is nothing else we can do to keep our children safe… but I know all of these things come at a price. And these are things the government does. provincial is not prepared to do to keep our children safe. “

The woman believes the province is not adequately funding local school boards to take additional precautions such as lunch breaks and staggered recess, or strengthen supervision to ensure students are following COVID-19 protocols.

I feel like there is a false sense of security and a false sense of security.

She is also concerned that the Ottawa Public Health self-test tool used by the Ottawa Catholic School Board has failed to capture some of the milder symptoms that her eldest daughter has experienced for the first time.

“We would not have been caught by the self-test tool, and that worries me a lot,” she said.

(The screening tool and current provincial guidelines say children should stay home if anyone in the household is showing symptoms.)

Finally, she believes schools should implement generalized randomized testing on students to detect asymptomatic cases or cases involving mild symptoms that are no longer reported during the screening process, before they can cause an outbreak. .

“If they could implement this tomorrow, I would feel immensely more confident in our family situation and how the rest of the school year is going to unfold,” she said on Monday.

On Tuesday, the province announced it would distribute rapid antigen test kits to schools and daycares in high-risk areas, at the request of local public health units. Take-home test kits are also available at dozens of schools in Ottawa.

Slow recovery

The woman’s daughters are now recovering well, but she has lost her taste and smell and has a nagging cough. Her husband, who suffers from asthma and suffered from pneumonia in August, has been the slowest to recover, she said.

She said if they could, they would continue to keep their daughters at home, and she warns other parents against complacency because they are vaccinated or because their child’s school has not. known epidemic.

“I feel like there is a false sense of security and a false sense of security, and I realize firsthand how much I’ve fallen into it as well,” she said.

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