Could schools become the next long-term care homes? Your COVID-19 questions answered

We are detailing what you need to know about the pandemic by answering your questions. You can email us your questions at and we will respond as much as we can. We will post a selection of responses every day of the week on our website and will also post some of your questions to experts on the air during The National and News Network.

Could schools become a flashpoint for infections, such as long-term institutions?

Julie P. wants to know what is being done to ensure that schools do not become critical outbreak points, such as long-term care facilities.


So far, Quebec is the first province to reopen nurseries and primary schools. The province is instructing teachers to return to work today, writing in a memo: "To prepare for this gradual resumption of activities in schools, all school personnel must return to work full-time starting May 4". But children will not return to school until May 11 in most of Quebec and May 19 in greater Montreal.

Schools in the province have been closed since mid-March, and the decision to bring children back is stirring controversy, even if parents have the option of keeping their children at home.

Canada's worst COVID-19 outbreak is in Quebec, but despite the high number of cases and deaths, Quebec Prime Minister François Legault says COVID-19 is under control and the province is moving forward with its plans to reopen parts of the economy and send some 500,000 people back to work, including teachers.


But could schools become a flashpoint for COVID-19 infection?

"It's a valid question," according to Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist and professor at McGill University. He says that we don't know much about the virus, especially when it comes to children, adding that "it doesn't seem that most children who attend school are at risk of becoming very sick, but the big question is whether they pose a risk of infect the adults they come into contact with at school and at home ".


Jennifer Bento, a third-grade teacher from Quebec, is concerned. "If I get sick, I won't know where I stayed, if it was at school or my daughter's who will also have to go back to school or one of my classmates".

Quebec's director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, says the province is launching a more "aggressive" testing strategy, with the goal of testing around 14,000 people a day compared to the 6,000 being tested daily at the moment.

But Oughton says that any province that relaxes its mitigation measures needs to increase its ability to test and track contacts.

"You need to be able to perform rapid tests, identify infected people and, if you find any disease, you need to do a quick contact tracking to isolate who has been exposed and to determine who is at risk of being exposed."


After schools reopen outside Montreal on May 11, it can take up to two weeks to find out whether or not the change has triggered an outbreak, because COVID-19 usually requires an incubation period of 5-7 days, plus seven more days to develop. significant symptoms.


By then, Montreal schools will be open, something that worries Oughton, who would like the province to proceed with more caution. "You can't set dates, because the virus doesn't follow a calendar."

Montreal English School Council says its "primary schools will not be reopened until the safety of students and staff can be guaranteed"; it is safe to do so. And Quebec's largest teacher union, the Federation autonome de l'enenseignment, is demanding that the government provide personal protective equipment, including masks, visors, gloves and dresses to teachers who request it.

In a statement to CBC News, the Quebec Ministry of Education says additional personal protective equipment will be provided only to daycare workers, but there are other measures to keep elementary school teachers and children safe, including improved hygiene protocols, physical distance and smaller classes.

I hear to CBC's Front Burner to learn more about Quebec's high-risk plan to reopen schools.

Will summer camps open this year?

We are getting a lot of questions about whether or not the kids are going camping this summer, including this email from Julie S., who is wondering if the day or night camps will be in operation, especially now that Quebec decided to reopen primary schools.

Many jurisdictions have already ordered the camps closed this year, but some are still considering opening if the situation in Canada improves.

Manitoba is a province that has given the green light to daily camps, as long as the size of groups is limited to 16 years old and interactions between children are maintained for & # 39; brief exchanges & # 39 ;.

But some experts raise concerns about how physical distancing can be ensured among children.

"While being outdoors is healthy and low-risk, overall I can't see how you can really manage the proper distance at a children's camp," says Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at the University of Alberta.

Saxinger says that while he is very supportive of confined families, "there is a lot of uncertainty in our understanding of SARS-C0V-2 in children".

Although children have lower rates of hospitalization, there are still conflicting data on the frequency with which they are infected and the disease is passed on to others.

Therefore, Saxinger warns that there is a potential risk that children could contract COVID-19 and take it home with them, infecting the most vulnerable members of their families.

My wife has a heart problem. Is it more at risk now that the provinces are reopening?

Chris D.'s wife has a heart transplant susceptible to bronchitis and pneumonia. He wants to know if it is more at risk, now that the provinces are planning to reopen slowly, because he can catch the virus and take it home.

The infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network in Toronto, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, says Chris should be concerned.

"When things are opening up slowly and there are perhaps more opportunities to transmit this infection, we have to be very, very careful," he says. "You need to do everything you can to prevent the infection from entering the home and affecting this individual with a compromised immune system."

While it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk, Bogoch provides some advice on how to mitigate it, including sharing the house, "impeccable hand hygiene" and isolating individuals who have symptoms.

"This is not a risk-free scenario, just trying to reduce that risk as low as possible," says Bogoch.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Canada Health recommends washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, without touching your face, practicing social detachment and staying at home if you are sick.

We are also answering your questions every night at The National. Last night, including your questions, should people over 70 isolate themselves until there is a vaccine? Watch below:

Doctors answer your questions about COVID-19, including whether people over 70 should isolate themselves at home until there is a treatment or vaccine. 4:17

On Friday, we answered questions about reopening provinces and reliving. Read on here.

Keep your questions coming sending an email to

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