Alberta releases guidelines for how schools will respond to COVID-19 outbreaks

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The document outlines the chain of command for school administrators, school authorities, AHS and Alberta Health in addressing potential outbreaks, but says schools are responsible for their own COVID-19 plans before schools reopen.

If a child shows symptoms of COVID-19, his or her classmates, siblings and family are not required to self-isolate unless she or he tests positive. The situation would be handled differently depending on when symptoms started and whether the child attended school while symptomatic.

If a child develops symptoms at home, he or she should not come to school. If they develop symptoms at school, they should be isolated and picked up immediately, and every item they touched disinfected or isolated for 72 hours.

Likewise, if a teacher or staff member develops a case of COVID-19, AHS will work to identify close contacts and make sure they follow quarantine.

AHS receives positive reports directly from labs, and will notify the school if there is a confirmed case. School administrators or parents do not need to contact AHS to confirm, but parents and staff with general inquiries can call Health Link at 811 or can visit the Alberta Health website.

However, if there is an absence rate of 10 per cent or more in a school, regardless of COVID-19 test results, the guidance document recommends schools report it so that AHS may be alerted “to potential outbreaks of other diseases.”

In the case of a student with a known pre-existing condition like allergies, he or she should be tested for COVID-19 if they develop symptoms to rule COVID-19 out before returning to the school.

“Schools should have flexibility for student and staff personal circumstances, such as flexible attendance and sick leave for students and staff who are symptomatic or who may have been identified as close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19,” the guide says.

On top of tracking all visitors in a log, schools must also keep records of a student’s known pre-existing conditions.

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