Castlemaine’s COVID-19 cases rise after school cluster outbreak

A cluster of schools at Castlemaine North Elementary School in the Victoria area isolated families over Christmas and continues to spread after students brought the virus to school last week.

The cluster of schools remains the largest in the state, with 63 cases, up from 60 cases yesterday, and sending scores of families into isolation for the holiday season.

Principal Samantha Chapman said she and other teachers made the decision last Wednesday to cancel the 6th grade graduation that evening, without knowing how many people were infected.

“Seven years of elementary school so it was disappointing on all fronts,” Ms. Chapman said.

A parent of two school-going boys said their children tested positive this week and the whole family was now isolated until after Christmas.

The school was informed last Wednesday morning by parents that several students had tested positive thanks to rapid antigen tests.

Castlemaine has 9,933 people in the 2016 census.(ABC News: Joe Printz)

Cases keep popping up

A week later, the number linked to the school now stands at 53 students and two staff who have tested positive for COVID-19.

A communication has been sent to all parents requesting that staff and students take a COVID-19 test and self-isolate until a negative result is received and the school conducts a deep clean.

A graduation ceremony scheduled for last Wednesday was called off after the school was told by parents of several positive rapid antigen tests.

“This is a really important event for all of us. A lot of work goes into preparing for the graduation ceremony. We have put a lot of time and energy into preparing for this evening.”

Data on Thursday showed there were seven new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active cases at Mount Alexander to 95. Postal codes in Castlemaine have the most, accounting for 83 of those infections.

Central Victoria is home to several clusters

Data released today by the health ministry showed that several of the cases linked to the northern Campaspe area were under investigation or had their contact confirmed.

“With so many kids having siblings in school, and in a small town like Castlemaine, people having friends in different groups and socializing outside of school, we just wanted to make sure everyone was getting tested and was recovering as soon as we did. could, ”Ms. Chapman said.

Further north, and in postal codes around Lockington, Bamawm and Prairie account for 54 active cases after five were added on Wednesday. Another group of schools have been linked to the Lockington Consolidated School, which has continued to grow over the past week and is believed to have 42 cases.

The Thomastown West Primary School school camp at Doxa Youth Camp in Malmsbury and Victory Christian College in Strathdale, near Bendigo, has also been linked to clusters of infections.

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