As most Alberta grade schools reopen their doors to students in less than a week, Alberta’s top doctor understands COVID-19 looms large over the return to the classroom.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, speaking at her twice-weekly update on the novel coronavirus, tried to ease anxieties from parents and teachers about the return to schools, reiterating protocols in place should be able to stamp out virus spread in most situations.
“I have family members who teach and children in school, too. Both personally and professionally, I am committed to a successful return to school,” Hinshaw said.
“This will be the first time any of us has gone back to school in a pandemic. It is natural to feel nervous, excited, anxious or any other emotion we may be feeling right now.”
Hinshaw said parents and teachers should read the Alberta government’s recently released
, which outlines protocols for scenarios including students developing symptoms, a single case being found and an outbreak being declared.
If someone in a school becomes symptomatic, they will be isolated and then taken home, where they will stay until they can be tested for COVID-19.
If they test positive, all their close contacts — defined as anyone within two metres for more than 15 minutes in a day without adequate protection — will also have to isolate and be tested.
An outbreak at a school will be declared when two or more cases are in the school or linked to the school. Parents will be notified when any cases are detected at their children’s schools.
One thing not defined, however, is conditions under which a school could be closed due to an outbreak, with Hinshaw saying the province doesn’t want to be “predetermining specific conditions” for school closures. She said some large outbreaks could enable schools to remain open if they occur outside of the school setting.
Hinshaw conceded that a school closure in Alberta is “entirely possible,” but said there are hundreds of schools in Alberta and any response to virus spread would likely be targeted. She stressed that a school closure wouldn’t invalidate the province’s back-to-school plan.
“I am convinced that it is critical to help our children get back into school in-person and to work on balancing the risks of COVID with the risks of all of the other things our children face, the risks of not being in school,” she said.
Students returning to schools will be required to wear masks, with the Calgary Board of Education mandating mask use by all students, while provincial guidelines only require those in grades 4 to 12 to wear face coverings.
The CBE shed more light Thursday on
, saying that for K-3 students, masks can be taken off when students are among their classroom cohorts. Students in grades 4 to 12 will not be required to wear masks when they are seated with their cohorts, provided that physical distancing can be maintained.
As well, there will be designated break times from mask use during the day for students and teachers.
“Wearing masks is new for all of us,” the CBE said. “As we would with any other learning, we will assess each student’s level of understanding and provide them with the teaching, guidance, coaching and encouragement at an age-appropriate level, to ensure safety for themselves and their school community.”
Also Thursday, Alberta reported 108 new cases of the coronavirus from more than 10,000 tests, about a 1.1 per cent positive rate. There are 1,158 active cases in Alberta, a decline from Wednesday, with 13,318 cases confirmed in total in the province.
Two more Albertans have died of COVID-19, bringing the province’s death toll to 237.
There are now 49 Albertans in hospital with the coronavirus, seven of whom are receiving treatment in intensive-care units.
Elsewhere Thursday, Hinshaw
and took questions from MLAs.
During the meeting, she said other provinces show what would have happened if Alberta had failed to flatten the curve.
She said provincial modelling done in April that showed an “elevated” scenario in which as many as 6,600 Albertans would have died of COVID-19 is essentially what has happened in Ontario. The “extreme” scenario that forecasted 16,000 to 32,000 deaths in Alberta is closer to what has played out in Quebec, Hinshaw said.
Prohibida la reproducción parcial o total. Todos los derechos reservados de Rubicon, Global Trade, Customs & Business Partnership, S.C., del Autor y/o Propietario original de la publicación. El contenido del presente artículo y/o cualquier otro artículo, texto, boletín, noticia y/o contenido digital, entre otros, ya sea propio o de tercero alguno, publicado en nuestra página de internet u otros medios digitales, no constituye una consulta particular y por lo tanto Rubicon, Global Trade, Customs & Business Partnership, S.C., sus colaboradores, socios, directivos y su autor, no asumen responsabilidad alguna de la interpretación o aplicación que el lector o destinatario le pueda dar.