Up to a third of students missing in small schools

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Alex Kurial/Local Journalism Initiative

There were a lot of students missing from Lambton’s public school, but Director of Education John Howitt doesn’t believe there’s any cause for alarm just yet.
“I think it was the cold temperature over the weekend that brought out some traditional fall runny noses, sore throats, coughs and sneezes that appear as COVID symptoms, but don’t always test out as COVID symptoms,” Howitt says.
His comments came following a trustee question at last week’s school board meeting about a number of kids who had recently stayed home from school.
In some smaller schools up to one-third of the student population was missing.
“That was significant in some schools… many of those did go to seek a COVID test,” Howitt says. But he added that “we have not had any positive results from that testing.”
All students and staff must take a daily COVID screening test available on the Ontario government website. The test asks if someone is newly experiencing any of more than 20 possible COVID symptoms. If they answer yes to any one of these they must stay home and monitor their symptoms or take a COVID test.
Howitt says as the weather gets colder and we enter flu season increased absences are likely to continue, but people should not take this as a sign the virus is in schools.
“Unless you see it reported as a known case, then it is not a known case,” says Howitt.
“There are, and were yesterday, and were today, and will likely be tomorrow, both staff and students that will either not report to school, or have to leave school due to symptoms that they are experiencing. That does not automatically mean that COVID is present. That requires a positive test result, which there are none of currently in Lambton Kent.”
On Tuesday, there were two schools across the province closed because of COVID-19.
There have been 308 people test positive in the school setting, including 64 on Tuesday. Two hundred and fifty schools out of over 4,800 have cases of COVID-19.