Covid-19: Contact tracing, quarantining returning to Calgary schools

Province also narrows numbers for outdoor gatherings from 200 to 20, with two-metre distancing between families

Calgary students on the traditional school calendar will go back with a mandatory mask mandate on Sept. 1. KIRSTEN PHILLIPS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Contact tracing and quarantining are returning to schools across the province after Thanksgiving.

The province will be phasing in contract tracing using an interim school-led process for notifying close contacts after Oct. 12.

School authorities will be performing the contact tracing with an expected transition to Alberta Health Services performing the tracing in mid-November.

“The contact notification will flow out from there initially supported by schools, but AHS once they have completed re-staffing will be picking that up in mid-November,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

A Chief Medical Officer of Health order will be forthcoming making close contact quarantining mandatory for schools.

“We will be implementing a CMOH order that requires an entire classroom of children if there are three or more cases infectious within a classroom in five days, then that class will need to be moved into online learning for 10 days time period,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

Dr. Hinshaw previously said they could not perform contact tracing in schools without the mandatory quarantine requirement. Quarantining and transitioning classes to online teaching was implemented last school year.

Disclosure of cases and outbreaks coming

The website used last year to notify Albertans about outbreaks in schools is also returning.

Starting on October 6 the province will publish the names of schools across the province that have at least two Covid-19 cases.

Outbreaks in schools will be now be reported after 10 in school infections. Previously during this school year, the province required 10 per cent of the school population to be absent before an outbreak was declared.

Rapid testing will also be available to students and staff in schools that have 10 or more cases that were infectious in school.

“Parents will obtain testing kits from their child’s school, and they will also be able to administer them to their children at home,” said Adriana LaGrange, Alberta’s Minister of Education.

The program will be rolled out later this month.

Vaccine mandate coming to the Calgary Board of Education

Vaccines have become mandatory for all Calgary Board of Education employees, volunteers, contractors and tenants. These groups will be required to be fully immunized by December 17.

Beginning this school year, the Calgary Board of Education required masks for all kindergarten through Grade 12 students. Elementary students from kindergarten through grade six were placed into cohorts.

Ministers Copping and LaGrange also strongly encourage all school boards to require vaccination mandates for their staff and visitors to their schools.

“Minister Copping and I will be sending a joint letter to school authorities this afternoon, and we will be posting this communication online for Albertans to see,” said Minister LaGrange.

Vaccinations will not be required for students to attend school.

The Alberta government is monitoring the Pfizer clinical trials for children aged 5-11.

“We are watching this closely, and we’re ready to move quickly if Health Canada grants approval,” said Jason Copping, Alberta’s Minister of Health.

Covid-19 infections among school-aged kids

The province reported 168 new cases among school-aged children aged 5-19 on Tuesday. This is the lowest the reported number of cases for this age group since the end of August.

Currently, there are 4,995 active cases among the 5-19 years-old age group.

Across the province, nine schools have transitioned to online learning.

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