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How many COVID-19 outbreaks will it take to close schools?

Last Updated Aug 25, 2020 at 8:28 am MST

CALGARY (CityNews) – How many outbreaks and how many COVID-19 cases will pop up before schools close down?

That’s a question many parents are asking as they prepare their kids for back to school, wondering how long this will last.

“Those thresholds or metrics have not been determined but will be part of a discussion between health and education as we look and learn from other jurisdictions,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

CityNews put the question to Alberta’s top doctor, the minister of health, education, and local school boards with varying answers coming back.

“I think that might be a question I direct to the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” said Tyler Shandro during an announcement in Calgary on Monday.
“Part of that question may be related to the education minister.”

CityNews reached out to the Ministry of Education who directed us to the government website which said “a COVID-19 outbreak within a school setting is defined as two or more confirmed cases within a 14-day period”.

“When a school outbreak reaches five cases, the outbreak will be listed on their websites. Shutdowns of specific classes, cohorts, or schools will depend on an investigation and that will be at the discretion of the local medical officer of health,” said the Ministry of Education in a statement.

“We will be watching closely for any outbreaks in schools, any cases in schools,” said Hinshaw.

The Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District have said they will follow directions from Alberta Health.

“We’re still learning about COVID,” said Shandro.

“Everybody in the world is and we’re going to continue to tailor our response to the new evidence that comes forward.”

As for what the number of cases is to close down schools, it appears parents will have to wait for when the first school bell rings.