How a Saskatoon family of 12 kept COVID-19 from spreading after four kids tested positive

A Saskatoon family of 12 is isolating in one household after four children tested positive for COVID-19. 

Rachel Smith said she received a notice from her kids’ school on March 18 informing her of a positive case of COVID-19 at the school.

While she wasn’t sure the positive case was in any of her kids’ classes, she said she pulled the children from school right away. 

“The following day my daughter was complaining of a headache and she’s the only one who had symptoms,” Smith told CTV News. 

On March 20, Smith said she loaded up her van and took six children to get tested.

“I was just very shocked to find out that four of the kids were positive for COVID as three of them did not have symptoms,” she said. 

Smith said in her home there are three adults and nine children, five of her own and four of her sisters’ who she took in after she died in December. 

The children who tested positive were put to isolation in the COVID wing of the house where they share two bedrooms and a bathroom. 

Smith said the kids, aged five, eight, 11 and 13, all have their own videogame systems, Netflix, laptops and other essentials to keep them busy. 

“We were lucky that the kids were a little bit older, they were able to isolate easily,” Smith said. “They didn’t mind being in their room, they didn’t mind getting breakfast, lunch and dinner delivered to them, they’re actually pretty happy.” 

Smith and her other sister Johanna Angus who lives in the home have tested negative twice. They tend to the children daily and are constantly cleaning to prevent further COVID-19 cases in the family. 

Smith said she also helps the kids with online classes – up to 12 a day – and manages the family with a physical schedule and “lots of lists.” 

“The Center of Disease and Control says that household spread is common and quick and frequently asymptomatic and everyone needs to be on guard,” Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist with EPI Resarch Co., told CTV News. 

Carr said kids with COVID-19 should frequently wash their hands and cough and sneeze into Kleenex to prevent droplets from spreading. 

“It would be beneficial if everyone kept their masks on in the home, particularly if you’re in any shared rooms. Even if you’re not, it’s better to keep the masks on because the air flow could be going from room to room,” Carr said.  

As of Tuesday at midnight the children will be deemed recovered but will remain in isolation until April 4, Smith said. 

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