‘Heightened concern’ as COVID-19 closes every school in Gimli, Man., on Monday

Every school in the Manitoba town of Gimli has been closed due to COVID-19.

In a message sent to parents and posted on its website on Sunday, the Evergreen School Division said some students and staff at Sigurbjorg Steffanson Early School and Dr. George Johnson Middle School tested positive for the coronavirus and had been at school while they were infectious.

It then learned of additional positive cases at Gimli High School.

No information was provided on the total number of cases, when they were discovered and on which days the infected people were at the schools.

The division’s statement only says a decision has been made to close all three schools on Monday, at least.

That will provide an opportunity for a number of people to get coronavirus test results back, allow public health officials to complete an investigation, give time for a deep cleaning of the schools and “determine the best path forward in collaboration with the medical officer of public health,” the message says.

“At this time of heightened concern,” the division is urging staff and families of students to limit contact with anyone outside their household, stay home when sick — even when symptoms are mild — and follow public health guidance to wear masks and thoroughly wash hands.

An update from the division is expected once it has heard from public health officials later Monday.

Gimli is in the province’s Interlake region, about 85 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

The Interlake is also where a case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant B117 was reported on Saturday.

Fisher River Cree Nation, about 100 kilometres north of Gimli, announced the positive case through a bulletin on its website.

The First Nation said it has a number of safety protocols in place to prevent spread and has advised members to not travel out of the community unless it’s for essential reasons — and that travel must be logged.

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