Calgary Catholic schools will continue to notify families of COVID cases in classrooms, CBE will not

Some Calgary families will have a different experience this year when it comes to COVID-19 classroom notifications, but it will depend on which school board they’re enrolled with. 

The Calgary Catholic School District says even though Alberta Health Services has ceased notifying schools when there is a positive case in their building and doing contact tracing, the board will continue to notify families of positive cases when they’re aware of them.

“Just because AHS has stepped away from the table, we believe we can’t not know what we know,” said chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas.

“If a parent does report to us a positive case, we will respect the individual’s privacy, but we will be contacting the school by letter just like we did last year, to let them know there was a confirmed case reported in the classroom.”

There will be changes, though, that come from AHS’s document, Guidance for Respiratory Illness Prevention and Management in Schools.

For example, unlike last year, then entire class will not be sent home. Also, the positive case will not be required to stay home for 14 days but 10 days, or until symptoms go away and there is a 24-hour period without fever. 

Szumlas said he understands some families may choose to keep their child home if a case is discovered in their class.

“We want to get things back to this better normal as soon as we can,” he said. “But we respect that for some family not knowing their whole story, that they may want to keep their kids at home, but that’s up to them.”

Calgary Catholic School District chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas. (CBC)

Families with kids enrolled at schools run by the Calgary Board of Education will not get the same kind of notifications.

“With AHS no longer providing this information, schools will not be notifying staff or families about positive cases,” reads a written statement from the board. 

“This process aligns with how AHS manages communication about other illnesses in a school setting, and is necessary to ensure that the private health information of individuals is not disclosed.”

The CBE said staff, students or families may still choose to notify schools of a positive case but they are not required, and if they do reported a positive case, that information will be collected.

If an outbreak is declared at any school in the province, including CBE or CCSD, or there is a school-wide absenteeism rise to 10 per cent or greater, AHS will step in and an investigation will be conducted by public health officials. 

“If we get to that 10 per cent threshold, then Alberta Health Services would be notified and they would be working directly with the school,” said Szumlas. “They have other measures that they would put in place that we would take direction from them at that point.” 

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