Notification of Positive COVID-19 in Schools

event Published 2021-09-21T17:06:51.692Z

September 21, 2021

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Re: Notification of Positive Cases in Schools

At the beginning of the school year, Alberta Health Services (AHS) determined they would no longer be confirming positive cases of COVID-19 in schools across Alberta.  Additionally, they are no longer working with schools to identify close contacts.  Last year, this process allowed us to provide a letter from Alberta Health Services (AHS) with information regarding positive cases and close contacts in our schools to parents and our communities.

With the most recent Government of Alberta pandemic update on September 15th, we anticipated this may change and that AHS would be confirming positive cases in schools and reinstate contact tracing. As this did not occur, beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 21st,  when a Grasslands school  receives the next self-reported positive case, whether it is a student or staff member, a letter from the principal will be emailed to families whose children attend that school and to the staff at the school.  After this point, families and staff will receive a letter from AHS if a significant number of students (10% or more) are absent from a school with respiratory illness for two or more consecutive days.

To protect the privacy of health information of students and staff, Grasslands will NOT be providing or disclosing personal information that may identify individuals who are COVD-19 positive.  Additionally, information about specific courses, classrooms, or grades will not be shared or disclosed at this time.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Alberta, positive cases of COVID-19 will be present in public spaces including our schools. We continue to ask families to keep their children home when they are ill and to communicate with our schools when they will be absent.  AHS continues to work with school divisions to manage significant numbers of respiratory illnesses in schools.  We are continuing to report to AHS when 10% or greater absenteeism of the student population in a school is affected by illness.  AHS will investigate and may declare an outbreak including the need for additional health protocols.

We recognize the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic makes returning to school more challenging than any of us want.  We thank you for your patience, cooperation and understanding.  As always, we are proud to serve our students, families and communities.  If you have any questions, you are always welcome to contact your child’s teacher, principal or the Grasslands office.

Sincerely,

Scott Brandt

Superintendent

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Positive Cases of COVID-19 In Schools

Is Alberta Health Services (AHS) informing schools when a student or staff member has been identified as positive COVID-19?

At this time, AHS is not sharing information about positive cases in schools.

How are schools learning about positive cases in the school?

Some parents are choosing to inform or self-report to the school principal when their child is identified positively with COVID-19.

Am I required to inform the school my child has COVID-19?

No. Parents are not required to share when their child is identified with COVID-19.  Reporting student absences continues to be required.  Please ensure you are letting the school know when your child is absent.

Is Alberta Health Services (AHS) continuing contact tracing?

No. AHS is no longer tracing the close contacts of an individual identified with COVID-19. For additional information on AHS response to COVID-19 in schools see: Guidance for Respiratory Illness Prevention and Management in Schools.   

Will staff and families receive a notification every time there is a positive case of COVID-19 identified at my child’s school? 

As of September 21st, after the first self-reported positive case at a Grasslands school, a letter from the principal will be sent to families via email.  Subsequently, a notification will not be sent with every positive case identified at the school. If there is a significant increase in positive case numbers in a school or class, Grasslands will work with AHS to determine a possible outbreak communication.

Will a letter be sent out for any positive cases that may have been identified previously in the school?

A letter will not be sent, retroactively, for cases that may have been self-reported to schools previous to September 21st.

I received a notification that my child’s school has a case of COVID-19, how will I know if my child is a close contact? Does my child need to isolate? 

As per Alberta Health Services, close contacts in schools are no longer being contacted. Students who have no symptoms are not required to quarantine if there is a case of COVID-19 at school, even if that case is in their classroom. See Isolation and Quarantine Requirements

What do I do if I learn there is a positive case of COVID-19 in the school?

Watch Video.  Parents/guardians are encouraged to vigilantly monitor their child(ren) for core symptoms.  Anyone that reports symptoms is directed to stay home, seek health care advice as appropriate (e.g., call Health Link 811, or their primary health care practitioner) and fill out the AHS Online Self-Assessment tool to determine if they should be tested.

Will schools share the class/grade of the positive case(s)?

It is important for school staff and administration to protect student/staff information as best as possible, including not disclosing personal information that may identify individuals who are positive COVID-19, to other members of the school community or to the public. In accordance with Alberta’s privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, staff will respect the health privacy of students, including their vaccination status.  

If my child is sick with COVID-19 and has to isolate for 10 days, how do they stay caught up with school work?

If the child is not too sick and is able to do some school work, parents should contact their child’s teacher and ask that school work be made available.  The amount of school work will vary by age, grade and subject. 

At what point does Alberta Health Services get involved?

Schools will let AHS know if 10% of students, or more, are absent because they are or might be sick. If the number of respiratory illnesses increases significantly, Alberta Health Services will be involved. Parents may receive a letter from AHS reporting ongoing student absenteeism over 10%.  AHS will also investigate and may declare an outbreak of a respiratory illness at school, and additional measures may be put in place. 

Will classrooms and shared spaces be disinfected in my child’s school when a positive case is identified?

Yes. Grasslands has continued with our deep cleaning protocols from last year. Each school is cleaned and disinfected each evening.  During the school day, high-touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected four times throughout the school day.