A positive case at a Catholic secondary school that sent students and teachers into quarantine has revealed the ACT government will not always disclose COVID-19 cases in schools to the public.
A person attended St Mary MacKillop College Isabella Plains campus on October 6, 7 and 11 while unknowingly infectious, but the exposure was not disclosed on the public list of sites nor was it discussed at Chief Minister Andrew Barr's Thursday COVID-19 press conference.
About 40 students and three teachers were close contacts of the case while three other people, including principal Michael Lee, were casual contacts.
Mr Lee said senior teachers worked from 5pm to 11pm on Wednesday to provide contact tracing information to ACT Health, who then called all of the close and casual contacts.
"We found out about four o'clock in the afternoon. At 5.15pm we were on a Zoom with ACT Health, the [Education] Directorate and Catholic Education. And by six o'clock we knew exactly what we needed to do," Mr Lee said.
"You're responsible for other people's children and for the lives of people that work with you. So I think it's been, I wouldn't say scary but extremely unfortunate and concerning. But we've had expert help and support from ACT Health."
An ACT government spokeswoman said if ACT Health assessed a COVID-19 exposure site and deemed it to be a low risk to the general public where all people can be identified, the site would not be published as an exposure location.
"Instead ACT Health works directly with the site to provide public health advice and support," the spokeswoman said.
It comes after ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the government wanted to be transparent about cases in high-risk setting such as hospitals.
The school has 232 students enrolled in year 12 who were attending face-to-face class since the start of term. The AST was not affected by the COVID-19 exposure.
The school said it would be closed for cleaning until October 21, however, Mr Lee was aiming to open the junior school for children of essential workers earlier.
Both campuses were closed because the leadership team worked across the two sites.
Remote learning was cancelled for all students on Thursday and Friday while teachers attended emergency staff meetings and got tested for COVID-19 if needed. Remote classes will resume on Monday.
No further cases of COVID-19 have been discovered so far and Mr Lee said good compliance with the rules had probably contributed to reducing the risk of transmission.
"I think there's an advanced sense of personal and collective responsibility here that the students bring to this, as well as the school and its protocols ... so we're in a good place from the start, but no one is immune from this. It can happen to anybody," he said.
The school leadership has been fielding phone calls and emails from concerned parents following the exposure, but parents had mostly been sympathetic and supportive.
Year 12 students are likely to return to campus by Thursday, but a decision will be made on the remaining year groups next week.
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