Two COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared at high schools in southern Alberta.
Alberta Health Services says in a statement that two or more people attended school while infectious at both Chinook High School in Lethbridge and Henry Wise Wood High School in southwest Calgary.
“AHS is working directly with the schools to limit risk of spread,” said the statement Thursday.
Officials say that includes assessing the classrooms and identifying close contacts of the people who have COVID-19.
“Any individual considered exposed to these cases will be contacted directly by Alberta Health Services, per standard contact tracing procedures,” the statement added.
AHS says infection-prevention measures – physical distancing, masking, hand hygiene and environmental cleaning – have been reviewed with the schools.
Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Health Officer, said Wednesday that Alberta Health Services has confirmed 16 COVID-19 infections in 16 different schools and that in all cases, the virus was acquired outside those institutions.
Support Our Students Alberta, a non-partisan, non-profit public education advocacy group, has put the number at 36, according to its online COVID-19 tracker.
Dr. Hinshaw said the numbers the Alberta government is releasing are based on whether an individual with COVID-19 was infectious when they were in a school.
“Other numbers are not relevant to school transmission risk and simply cause confusion and anxiety.”
For instance, she said, learning that a teacher or a student caught COVID-19 at a gathering or on vacation, and was not in their school, isn’t helpful.
Dr. Hinshaw said the government is launching a new online map that will list every school where there have been two or more cases within a 14-day period and where the disease could have spread in the school.
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