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COVID-19 in Schools

September 15, 2020 - Parkland School Division staff acknowledges that anxiety levels increase and more questions are raised when a positive case of COVID-19 appears in a school. Even more questions will arise if multiple cases are reported from the same school. The full Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidance document on this subject can be found at:

Resource for COVID-19 in Schools (Guide for before, during and after an outbreak)

This resource becomes the playbook the school division and schools to follow in the event of a positive case or outbreak in a school.

Alert vs Outbreak

An alert is generally defined as a warning sign that there may be more cases than would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season.

A COVID-19 alert in a school setting is defined as one confirmed case of COVID-19 in either a student or staff member in the school setting.

A COVID-19 outbreak within a school setting is defined as “two or more confirmed cases (staff and/or student) within a 14 day period (one incubation period) OR two or more confirmed cases (staff/child) that are epidemiologically linked.”

It is Alberta Health Services that determines the criteria and whether to declare an Alert or Outbreak.

Unless you are a close contact, there is no reason to NOT come to school. If you are unsure, please refer to the PSD Stay At Home Guide.

Notifications

ONLY close contacts of a positive case will be contacted to let them know they are a positive case. AHS is responsible for following up with close contacts of a confirmed case. If you have NOT received this communication from the school asking you to keep your child home or retrieve your child at school, then you are not considered a close contact and may continue to attend classes at school.

If there is ONE confirmed case in your school setting (with or without symptoms), your school will be on an Alert Status.

AHS requires school divisions to notify all parents at a school once they are on an alert status.

If there are TWO OR MORE confirmed cases in your school setting (staff/child) within a 14 day period (one incubation period) OR two or more confirmed cases staff child) that are epidemiologically linked, your school will be upgraded to Outbreak Status.

AHS requires school divisions to notify all parents at a school once they are on outbreak status.

If there are FIVE OR MORE confirmed cases in the outbreak at your school setting, the outbreak at your school will be publicly reported on the Alberta Health outbreak website.

Privacy

While schools may be required to share student/staff information with AHS Public Health under the Public Health Act, it is important for school staff and administration to protect the privacy of students/staff members. Personal information that may identify individuals who are COVID-19 cases to other members of the school community or to the public cannot be disclosed. The school will not be sharing which grade or classrooms are affected or whether or not is a student or staff member affected.

Close Contact*

The Alberta Health Services guidelines define ‘close contact’ in a school setting as individuals that:

a) Provide direct care for an individual with COVID-19 or who had similar close physical contact

OR

b) Had close prolonged contact (i.e., for more than 15 minutes cumulative and within two metres) with a case

OR

c) Had direct contact with infectious body fluids of an individual with COVID-19 (i.e., was coughed or sneezed on).
 

Management of Individuals tested for COVID-19

The exceptions in the chart above always indicate ONLY the child who is identified as the close contact of a confirmed case would be expected to quarantine for the full 14 days even with a negative test result.

Siblings & Family Members

As indicated in the chart above, if there are siblings of a close contact that have not had direct contact with the confirmed case of COVID-19, those students are clear to attend school provided they are symptom free.

For further information and resources, visit the PSD COVID-19 Info page for students, staff and parents.