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Parents able to voluntarily report COVID-19 cases to Ottawa's public school board starting as soon as next week

Earlier this month before schools started, the Ontario government announced that it would no longer report COVID-19 outbreaks in schools.
Masked student in classroom

The responsibility has been placed on parents to trace COVID-19 cases in schools.

Starting January 24, parents of students who attend schools under the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board will be able to voluntarily report positive COVID cases.

The school absence reporting will provide data on how many students and staff were physically present in a school on a given day, the OCDSB said in its announcement on Friday, January 21.

The information will not collect details on why these individuals were not present, however.

“If absences exceed 30 (per cent) of the school population, we are required by the Ministry of Health to inform Ottawa Public health who may provide additional direction to the school community,” the OCDSB explained.

Initially, OCDSB said it would not keep up with reporting cases within its schools on its COVID-19 Disclosure Dashboard as per the Ontario government’s latest round of decisions.

However, parents will now be able to disclose an absence by filling out a reporting form.

That information, the OCDSB said, will be used to populate a new COVID-19 Disclosure Dashboard.

“Interested persons will be able to access the dashboard and see information on the number of cases by school (no personal information will be shared),” the OCDSB said. “We hope to have this structure built and ready later next week. More information about this new system will be shared as soon as it’s available.

“Our goal is to be as transparent as possible with the community. This data is self-reported by parents/guardians and/or staff through voluntary reporting and/or normal absence reporting processes and we cannot guarantee the accuracy of it. It is meant to be a snapshot of the current COVID-19 situation and absences due to illness in schools and workplaces for the previous school day.”

The Ontario government suspended the reporting of COVID cases in classes and schools earlier this month.

Starting on Monday, January 24, though, Ontario will also start reporting school absences, with the aim of tracking how many students and staff are physically in a school every day.

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