Teachers returning to their classrooms encouraged to get tested for COVID-19

Calgary Academy junior high teacher Daniel Catley instructs his students in mathematics. This fall, teachers will wear masks in classes when unable to physically distance from students.

As teachers and school staff return to their classrooms to prepare for the new school year, Alberta’s top doctor is continuing to encourage them to add COVID-19 testing to their back-to-school to-do lists.

On Twitter on Sunday afternoon, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reiterated her encouragement for teachers and school staff to be tested.

“We are in the home stretch preparing for back to school. If you are a teacher or school-related staff and haven’t been tested for COVID-19 yet, I encourage you to arrange for testing today,” she posted.

“A main predictor of successful school reopening is community transmission. Places with high transmission have experienced more spread in schools than places with low transmission. By following public health guidance, we can all help keep cases as low as possible for the fall.”

The return to school this fall has been a contentious topic, and parents took their frustrations to the front steps of the offices of United Conservative MLAs on Friday to demand more funding and safety measures for schools.

In total,

27 rallies took place across Alberta

, with 14 in Calgary, including at offices of prominent UCP MLAs such as Health Minister Tyler Shandro in Calgary-Acadia.

During her Thursday news conference, Hinshaw stood behind the government’s school re-entry plan, reiterating that while some COVID-19 cases will likely emerge, the tradeoff is worthwhile.

“We must take the pandemic seriously and we also must look at the whole picture,” she said. “As a parent of school-age children, I have decided that the value of in-school learning outweighs the risk to my family. That’s why I’m sending my children back to school in September.”

The provincial COVID-19 data was not updated over the weekend, however, 144 new cases and two additional deaths were reported Friday. As of Friday, there were 1,144 active cases in the province with 294 of them in the Calgary zone.

There have been 11,374 recorded recoveries out of the 12,748 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province. With the two additional deaths on Friday, Alberta’s death toll sits at 230. There are 43 people in hospital, including nine in intensive-care units.

In total 865,835 tests have been completed, including 9,866 on Friday alone, and 697,546 people have been tested.

The Edmonton zone currently has the most active cases, with 676 active as of Friday.

The updated data from the weekend will be online Monday afternoon.

With files from Jason Herring 

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