No threshold for triggering school closures as Edmonton COVID-19 cases rise

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The final decision is up to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, but Hinshaw said the rising case numbers should act as a “wake-up call” for Edmontonians to work to contain the spread before school starts.

“We need to strive to make sure our community transmission is as low as possible. Together we can minimize the risk to students and staff in schools and help our children regain this part of their normal education and social development,” Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw said she continues to offer the same general guidance that is now familiar to Albertans – including frequent hand-washing, physical distancing and masks – but reiterated that addressing specific challenges is up to individual schools and school boards.

That includes managing cohorts for high school students who could visit more than one classroom in a day.

“That’s where we’ve not wanted to micro-manage individual decisions that are based on a local school context,” Hinshaw said.

If a child shows symptoms of COVID-19, they, their classmates, siblings and family would not be required to self-isolate unless he or she tested positive. The situation would be handled differently depending on when symptoms started and whether the child attended school while symptomatic. If they were to test positive, a public health investigation would conduct contact tracing to determine whether or not there was exposure, and those in close contact would be ordered to quarantine.

Hinshaw said public health officials are working on specific guidance documents, to be released next week, that will address potential outbreak scenarios.

“I know that parents, teachers and school staff want to have all of that specific information so they can be making plans,” Hinshaw said.