‘Be careful kids’: Student with COVID-19 at John Pritchard School in Winnipeg speaks out


It started with coughing and sneezing for a grade 7 student at John Pritchard School. Over the next two weeks, he lost his senses of taste and smell, experienced some shortness of breath, and constantly felt tired.He is now among at least 26 people linked to the school who are infected with COVID-19 – the province’s largest school outbreak to date. North Kildonan’s Kindergarten to Grade 8 school transferred around 250 students to distance learning last week, when health officials said seven cases were identified there.

“It’s a little scary, because in all the schools in Manitoba you don’t expect it to hit your school very hard, an epidemic,” said the boy, whom CBC News does not identify.

He has some tips for parents and other students.

“As a kid, COVID-19 for kids with strong immune systems won’t be that bad… but it’s still a little scary. So be careful kids, ”he said.

In the beginning

On September 11, the 12-year-old girl woke up coughing and sneezing. Believing he had a cold, he stayed home after school. It was a Friday.

Two days later, provincial health officials released information about a positive case at school after one person was in the building from Tuesday to Thursday of the same week while asymptomatic.

The grade 7 student was tested on Monday and tested positive on Tuesday. He wonders if his exhibit could have been tied to lunchtime, as the four Grade 7 classes ate together in the school gymnasium. Although the two cohorts, consisting of two classes each, were on opposite sides of the gymnasium, he said there were still around 80 students in the room.

“The kids weren’t social distancing. They were talking without masks, ”he says.

He said the knobs on the outside of the bathrooms are a common area as well. The kids are pushing them and the buttons light up to indicate a free stall, he said.

‘Lessons learned’

Health officials have conducted a “fairly thorough” investigation and continue to look into the John Pritchard outbreak, the Manitoba provincial public health official said.

“We are very interested in the lessons learned,” said Dr. Brent Roussin on Thursday, when asked about the school cases.

Public health officials have a “fairly good” understanding of the index case and how transmission has occurred, he said. They are working with the school to better understand the epidemic

Roussin said that even with the use of masks, the spacing, and everyone’s best efforts to follow the guidelines, the challenge with this virus is “you can’t let your guard down.”

“Young people can have very mild symptoms that can sometimes go unnoticed,” he said.

The River East Transcona School Division said it is working to ensure all public health guidelines are in place and is encouraging the boy’s family to speak directly to their school about their concerns.

“Many of these details will be consolidated closer to the return date in collaboration with public health and the pandemic response color code the school will be in at that time,” Amanda Gaudes, senior communications coordinator, said in an email to CBC News.

‘I am ashamed’

The grade 7 student said he knew “about five” friends in his class who had also tested positive. Roussin said the overall cases have occurred among staff and students, but are mostly linked to the same cohort.

” I was ashamed … [being] this sick child, and that no one would want to hang around me, ”said the boy.

That changed when he texted his friends and found some of them were positive as well.

“It made me feel a lot more comfortable knowing what they are feeling and that they know what I am feeling. ”

Now largely recovered, he spends his extra time at home playing video games and trying to do his homework while keeping in touch with his friends. He said various symptoms of COVID-19 – like loss of his sense of taste and smell, upset stomach, sore throat and diarrhea – came and went at different times.

He said “it was different” having to wear a mask around the family in the house and wipe down whatever he used.

“I had to stay in my room most of the time,” he says.

Family tested

His family also had to be tested, although the boy was the only one who tested positive, his mother said.

She said her son just seemed to have a cough and cold at first, with no signs of fever or fatigue.

She is impressed with the way her son has handled everything.

“He’s doing really, really well,” said the mother, whom CBC News does not name. “But how can you not… you can’t even snuggle up to your child, we’re all stuck in our own rooms,” she laughed.

She hopes distancing measures are enforced in the school and on the buses that transport students between schools, as the exhibits have been linked to the school bus routes of John Pritchard Winnipeg Transit and River East Transcona School Division.

John Pritchard School remains at code “orange,” the second highest level of caution across the province, which means additional measures are in place, such as keeping students two meters away from each other. the other.

While staying at home, the grade 7 student said he enjoys distance learning and would rather do more or a mix of both.

He hopes his story helps others know that they don’t have to be ashamed if they test positive and helps shine a light on the importance of following the rules.

“Watch your children’s symptoms, washing your hands, wiping things. If your child has them, they will probably survive, ”he says. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

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