Dear Golda Och Academy Parents,
Out of an overabundance of caution, and in an effort to be as transparent as possible when it comes to sharing news about our response to the coronavirus, I am passing along the email (below) that I received last night from Yair Szlak, CEO of the Montreal Jewish Federation. He sent the following message, a letter from Dr. Earl Rubin, the Head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Montreal Children’s Hospital, following this past week's Jewish-Canadian Youth Model UN Competition that 20 of our high school students attended.
As a result of the possible exposure to students from the SAR delegation, we will be following the guidance (below) and keeping our GOA Model UN delegation (students and teachers) out of school until Monday, March 9.
We will continue to apprise our entire community of any new information and have set up a page on our website where all coronavirus-related updates and resources will be posted.
Head of School
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Sent: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 8:49 PM
To: Yair Szlak
Subject: Important Update on Students participating in the Jewish Canadian Youth Model UN Conference
You are receiving this email because one or more student/s at your school participated in the Jewish Canadian Youth Model UN Conference between March 1st to 3rd, 2020. While Federation CJA does not run the Model UN Program, as it is completely a Student run program, we have been deeply implicated with ensuring that the appropriate recommendations are made and that the proper communication of the current situation takes place.
This communication follows consultation with Federation CJA’s Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 over the past few hours in order to come to the recommendations below.
Late this afternoon, we were made aware that at least two participants from New York have come into contact with an individual that has tested positive for COVID-19.
The following is important information regarding the situation from Dr. Earl Rubin. This is a recommended course of action for the Schools involved. As you understand, the situation with COVID-19 remains fluid and continues to evolve as the world comes to grips with dealing with the virus. Our recommendations are made based on the best information we have at this time.
March 4, 2020
Re: Model UN conference March 1-3, 2020
Possible, but unlikely, exposure to Covid-19 (novel Coronavirus)
Dear Heads of School,
BOTTOM LINE: There is a possible exposure, albeit unlikely, that may have occurred at the Jewish Canadian Youth Model UN. Until we have further details, Federation CJA, in conjunction with Infectious Diseases at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (Dr. Earl Rubin), have recommended that the students, who attended the Model UN, not attend school until Monday March 9th at which point a further directive will follow.
Details leading to this move are outlined below. All of the information is included for those that want all the details to best understand the rationale of the above
As you know, the Model UN conference took place in Montreal from March 1st to 3rd. 180 participants attended the conference, 94 of whom are from the following Montreal area schools: Bialik - 20 students, Hebrew Academy - 23 students, Herzliah - 16 students, Selwyn House - 1 student, and 34 local student leaders from CEGEP and university.
As part of the 180 student delegation, there were 20 students from SAR High School in New York. Public Health New York has asked to close this school until Monday, March 9th as a possible exposure may have occurred there. The story, as we understand it, is as follows:
A father of one of the SAR students is currently hospitalized with Covid-19. His family members are also infected, some are symptomatic and others are asymptomatic. No members of this family attended the Model UN.
The working hypothesis is that the father was at a Bar Mitzvah on February 22nd and a funeral on February 23rd and may have exposed others to the infection there.
The concern surrounds at least 2 Model UN participants who had contact with the patient during or following one of these events.
The incubation period from contact to manifesting symptoms is up to 14 days (which would end March 8th), but the majority display symptoms between days 4-7. While incubating, and have no symptoms, the chance of transmission is thought to be unlikely. These 2 students would have been at the Model UN on days 7-10 after their contact. Both remain ASYMPTOMATIC. On a balance of probabilities, it is unlikely they are infected.
We have discussed the situation with Public Health Montreal. They are NOT concerned, and their recommendation would be that no intervention is needed at this time. Therefore, Federation CJA will be reaching out to all schools with the recommendation that the Model UN students stay at home until Monday, March 9th. At that time the 14-day incubation period would have been completed, and if these 2 students from SAR High School remain well, they are NOT infected and do not pose any issue to the other students who attended the Model UN.
Siblings of Model UN participant have only been in contact for the last 1-2 days. There is NO need to keep these siblings at home.
We understand that these students did go to school today, but 1-3 days after an exposure to an asymptomatic person, they would NOT have symptoms, would NOT have a high enough viral burden to infect those around them. Therefore, today’s attendance is of no consequence.
Federation CJA will stay on top of the situation, which is an ever evolving story, and will communicate with you before Monday morning with any and all updates. If the SAR students do display symptoms between now and Sunday, a further directive will follow.
So, just to re-iterate, the risks are minimal if not negligible. But to alleviate concerns and questions, we thought it be best to err on the side of caution, and recommend that the Model UN students NOT attend school for the rest of the week.
I apologize for the lengthy letter, but hope this is clear and clarifies the situation.
Dr. Earl Rubin
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Montreal Children’s Hospital
Yair Szlak, B.A, LL.B
Chef de la direction | Chief Executive Officer