How are Calgary schools and post-secondary institutions preparing for COVID-19?

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How are Calgary schools preparing for COVID-19?
WATCH: Schools across Calgary are preparing for COVID-19. Lauren Pullen has more on the measures different institutions are taking. – Mar 11, 2020

Calgary schools and post-secondary institutions are in preparation mode, making contingency plans in case COVID-19 shows up at a school or on campus.

Alberta’s medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, sent a letter to school superintendents and parents reiterating that while the risk of catching the virus in Alberta is low now, “this may change in the coming weeks.”

In the letter, Hinshaw advised anyone travelling over spring break to keep up-to-date with the latest information on the Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services COVID-19 specific websites and to check with the Government of Canada website for the latest travel advisories.

“Decisions regarding whether or not to travel remain the responsibility of families and schools,” Hinshaw wrote. “The COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly with increasing global spread, so it is important that people have up-to-date information to inform these decisions.”

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The University of Calgary emailed students about its contingency plans.

It has gone above and beyond Alberta Health’s self-isolation advisory to include anyone coming to Calgary from the following locations to self-quarantine for 14 days:

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  • The Grand Princess cruise
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • South Korea
  • Singapore

U of C is also looking at what would happen if it had to cancel classes, including potentially moving those classes online.

Mount Royal University is working with its emergency operations centre for its preparations.

“There is contingency planning to consider what it might look like if we had to close the campus or interrupt the semester,” MRU VP of finance and administration Annalise Van Ham said.

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READ MORE: Health Link, assessment centres, provincial labs: A look at how Alberta is preparing for the coronavirus

Van Ham said MRU has implemented its “highest level of cleaning protocols.”

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The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology has not outlined its preparations or protocols should COVID-19 arrive on campus, but in a statement said: “the health and well-being of our students, staff and visitors is vital and we are making every effort to ensure a continued safe learning and working environment at SAIT.

“Like many organizations, we are monitoring closely and following the guidance of our public health authorities.”

As of Tuesday, SAIT had cancelled all planned Study Abroad programs.

In addition, SAIT said its Executive Management Council (EMC) is prohibiting “SAIT employee-related travel” to the countries on the government’s active travel health notices list.

“It is expected this list may change over the coming weeks as the COVID-19 event evolves,” a statement on SAIT’s website reads. “Accordingly, future travel plans to countries not currently on this list may also be affected.

“For incoming or returning students, faculty and staff, self-monitoring or self-isolation requirements may apply.”

READ MORE: Who is Dr. Deena Hinshaw? Alberta’s chief medical officer of health

The Calgary Board of Education said Tuesday it is setting up an internal task force to deal with the spread of COVID-19.

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In a letter to parents, the board said it understands school communities are growing increasingly concerned with the announcement of local cases of the virus.

The Calgary Board of Education is also increasing cleaning at its schools and has put up new posters reinforcing proper hand-washing techniques and stressed if your child is sick, do not send them to school.

– With files from Global News’ Kaylen Small

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