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Confirmed cases: What’s happening inside Calgary high schools

Students at Calgary’s Henry Wise Wood High School were separated, isolated, and eventually sent home after they were told they were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The high school confirmed the case Tuesday night (Sept. 8) making it the 12th school in the Calgary area to record a positive case of COVID-19.

“Today, in my first period class, they sent a list to my class and my teacher had to send those students to the courtyard,” said Dominic, a student at Henry Wise Wood High School.

He said three other students then received messages from parents about a call they received.

“I’m assuming they instructed them to go home,” said Dominic.

Another Wise Wood student got some different news.

“Last night our school website was updated with information on the covid case found in the school,” said Alisa, a Grade 12 student at Henry Wise Wood.

“I saw that some people got a call from Alberta Health services to stay home, which scared me a little.”

Alisa still went to school the following day, not knowing that she had been exposed to the virus.

But during class, she got called out and was told to go into a room with “a handful of other students.”

They were all instructed to go home and quarantine because they had been in contact or exposed to the confirmed case.

Under intense criticism

In Wednesday’s provincial briefing, they said 16 COVID-19 cases were identified in 16 schools while the individuals were infected. They said transmission came from outside the schools.

The province has launched an online map of COVID-19 school outbreaks. They’ve also noted which schools have switched to scenario two or three as a result of cases. They’re hoping to update the map to include schools with one cases and an alert issued.

In recent days, the Alberta government has been heavily criticized by some for comments made about students going back to school.

Both Premier Jason Kenney and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said that an increase in cases once school started was inevitable.

Dr. Hinshaw has maintained that there’s a delicate balance with the bump in cases and the correlative effect on families keeping kids home from classes.

The province’s top doctor was also scrutinized for her decision to scrap social distancing measures just days before schools were set to reopen.

Even though some already believed that it would be nearly impossible to maintain a distance regardless of whether or not the rule was reversed.

Some rules can’t be followed

Alberta Health has created COVID-19 resource guide for schools with both preventative measures and what to do in the case of an outbreak.

The guide includes general preventive measures such as distancing when possible, staying home when feeling sick, and mask wearing.

“They’re making us wear masks whenever we’re indoors,” said Dominic.

But he said distancing isn’t really happening.

“It’s not really possible at my school because of how it’s set up,” he said.

“But no school is doing it from what I’ve seen.”

While teachers are doing what they can and are asking everyone to distance, some students say that it’s too crowded to be spaced out.

“Some classes have up to 45 students,” said Alisa. “It’s hard to socially distance when there’s so many people in one room.”

Occupying everyone’s minds

Before she and several other students were sent home, Alisa said there was a lot of talk about it at school. Her teacher also briefly mentioned it before class.

“It’s really all the students can think about right now,” said Alisa.

“The teachers too.”

Now, Alisa will be spending more time at home.

“I’m under the impression that we’ll be quarantined until the 18th [Sept. 18]”

The Alberta public education advocacy group Support Our Students (SOS) has been posting an updated listing of suspected COVID-19 cases in Alberta schools.

Thirty-four cases have been identified in schools since Aug. 30, the group reports.