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Public health measures for schools update - Oct. 14

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hinshaw, the Minister of Health, Jason Copping, and the Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, announced some further public health measures that are required for schools. The measures are to protect students, staff, and school communities so that in-person learning can safely continue.

On Oct. 7, the Division sent out communication regarding these measures. At the close of that communication, the superintendent indicated the Division would provide further details as they presented. The draft Health Order directs action with the new health measures that target grades K-6. As well, the Division has met with Alberta Health Services in the south to better understand process. Some of the information below is repetition from the previous communication.

  1. Case Notification

Process for grades K-6

If a student in grades K-6 has a “confirmed case of COVID-19” as communicated to the school division by Alberta Health Services, the school will send a “case notification” to the parents/caregivers of students in the “class cohort.” A notice is not sent to all the parents/caregivers of students in the school. If parents would like to keep track of total number of cases in a school, they can access this information being tracked by Alberta Health Services at this link: COVID-19 school status | Alberta.ca

No further action beyond notification is taken if the number of cases remain 1-2 in a class over the course of a five-day period. If there are 3 or more cases over the course of 5 days, a notice of a “Period of Exclusion” will apply (see below for details).

 Process for grades 7-12

If a student in grades 7-12 has a “confirmed case of COVID-19” as communicated to the school division by Alberta Health Services, the school will send a “case notification” email to all the parents/caregivers of students in the school. Parents can track the total number of cases at a school by accessing the information tracked by Alberta Health Services a this link: COVID-19 school status | Alberta.ca

As per the draft Health Order, there is no Period of Exclusion process in place for grades 7-12. With that in mind, a class cohort notification system is not in place for grade 7-12.

  1. Period of Exclusion from In-person Learning Grades K-6 ONLY

During any five-day period, if there are three or more members of a class cohort who are found to be a confirmed case of COVID-19 who attended school during the members’ infectious period within that five day period, the class will be “excluded” from in-person learning. The period of exclusion will be “10 consecutive calendar days” counted forward from the last day a member of the class cohort who tests positive attended in person at the school during the member’s infectious period. Recognizing this sounds complicated, not to worry. The “Exclusion Letter” will identify the date of return of your child to in-person learning. When a class cohort moves to at-home learning because they fall under a period of exclusion, instruction will be delivered via Teams. Schools and teachers will provide specific instructions regarding access to at-home learning during a period of exclusion. 

  1. Public Reporting – ALL GRADES

As noted in #1, Alberta Health has started the process of posting the number of COVID cases in all schools throughout Alberta. Any school with two or more COVID-19 cases will appear on the COVID-19 School Status List located here: SCHOOL STATUS.

This list will include any COVID-19 cases at the school that were infectious while attending school over the last 14 days.

A school is classified as being in “Outbreak” if there are 10 or more COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period that were infectious while at school. Parents/caregivers will receive an Outbreak Notification letter if this occurs in their school. Alberta Health Services will work with the school division to review outbreak control measures at the school and additional measures to limit further spread may be implemented.

  1. Rapid testing

Alberta Education has informed the Division that rapid testing may be available by late-October for Kindergarten to Grade 6 schools experiencing outbreaks. If implemented, the rapid testing program will be voluntary.

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