Need an expert? COVID-19: Going back to school in Ontario

Posted on Friday, August 28, 2020

An open school door

Members of the media may directly contact the following expert:

Dr. Hugues Loemba (French only)
Clinician-researcher, family doctor and virologist. Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine

Ontario unveiled its COVID-19 school outbreak plan this week.

“By asking symptomatic students to go home and isolate themselves while they wait to see a health care professional or family doctor, we're betting on trying to rule out something other than COVID-19 first. If it is not COVID-19, a student could be isolated for 14 days for nothing.

In my opinion, mass and targeted screening for COVID-19 by offering the test to all symptomatic students should be the rule, not the exception. This approach can help to identify suspicious cases very quickly and prevent outbreaks at school, which will also help to limit the spread of infection to the community and parents.

The COVID-19 test should be offered early enough while trying to exclude other diseases in parallel and not the other way around. If students with typical symptoms of COVID-19 are sent home without being tested, the risk to the school, social and community seems much greater.”

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