WINDSOR, ONT. -- For a number of weeks, Chatham-Kent has had no active COVID-19 cases in the community.

It was a different story this week as there were 12 cases, including five schools sending students home, undertaking extensive contract tracing.

"It was inevitable we would get more, and I said that all the way through our quiet time...," said Dr. David Colby, Medical Officer of Health at Chatham-Kent Public Health.

That quiet time ended this week when dozens of students were exposed to COVID-19 cases in the community.

One of those cases was a "service provider" for both the St. Clair Catholic District School Board and the Lambton-Kent District School Board.

CK Public Health says the other instance is linked to an outbreak of four cases at an unidentified church in Chatham-Kent.

Letters were sent home by the school board advising the student was potentially exposed, and will need to isolate for 14 days, causing concern and fear among parents.

Colby says the steps being taken are positive signs that the existing protocol works.

"The isolations that have taken place are precautionary and we believe they have been very successful. So this is a success story, although it does create some consternation from everyone. But nevertheless, it’s easier in a school environment, because of all this work we’ve done to organize all these cohorts…"

The following although affected schools are not in an outbreak and remain open:

  • Ursuline College, Chatham
  • Tecumseh Public School, Chatham
  • Harwich Raleigh Public School, Blenheim
  • Blenheim District High School, Blenheim
  • St. Anne Catholic School, Blenheim

Colby says unwelcome circumstances often create tense but teachable moments, and this is one of them.

John Howitt, Director of Education at the Lambton Kent District School Board said, "One of my concerns that was looming was that complacency might start to invade our schools. If there’s any silver lining to what we’re dealing with now, they’re concrete examples of why vigilance needs to continue."

Dr. Colby said there is no community spread in Chatham-Kent and tells parents, if you they not directly contacted by public health, their child is not at risk of being a close contact.