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Few details known on outbreak plan for Alberta schools

Last Updated Aug 19, 2020 at 4:18 pm MST

An empty teacher's desk is seen at the front of a empty classroom at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver on September 5, 2014. Alberta is planning to reopen schools in the province this fall even as cases of COVID-19 in the province continue to grow. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – Alberta health officials are still hammering out details on their outbreak guidance document which will recommend what schools and parents should do if their children become infected with COVID-19.

Few details were given during the latest COVID-19 update on what the province plans to do if an outbreak occurs in a classroom.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said each individual case is circumstantial with more guidance expected to be provided next week.

She added it would depend on when the child got sick and the last time they attended school.

“For example, a child who is attending school regularly gets sick on a Monday morning and they’re kept home by their parents and arrange for testing. Let’s say that test is positive for COVID but if their symptoms started on a Monday and they hadn’t attended school on the Saturday or Sunday, there would be no significant exposure.”

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If a student is symptomatic while at school and sent home, Hinshaw said this would not require those in the classroom to be quarantined but rather students would be encouraged to get tested.

If results came back positive then a health investigation would begin.

“It really depends on each individual scenario. That initial investigation about was the child in school while infectious? If they were, who were their close contacts?”

Hinshaw also said there is no specific number threshold to close down a school saying it would again be all circumstantial.

A discussion between health officials and Alberta Education would need to take place before a decision like that is made.