Coronavirus: Alberta removes school COVID-19 outbreak map from website

A photo taken inside Sister Annata Brockman Catholic School in Edmonton on Sept. 2, 2020. Eric Beck/ Global News

An online map that has been used to track COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in Alberta schools will be removed from the province’s website.

Following the end of the 2020/21 school year Tuesday, the map will be taken off the province’s website on Friday.

The map was created in September 2020 to help track alerts and outbreaks in schools across Alberta.

Read more: Symptoms, confirmed cases and outbreaks: How Alberta plans to handle COVID-19 in schools

According to Alberta Health, there are three different phases a school may go through if it has confirmed COVID-19 cases in students or staff.

Schools with two or more cases are included on the map. An ALERT status indicates a that school has up to four cases.

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Once a school has five or more cases, it moves to OUTBREAK status. If a school has 10 or more COVID-19 infections in its population, it moves to OUTBREAK 2 status.

Click to play video: '‘We will continue evaluating our approach’: Hinshaw on COVID-19 cases in Alberta schools' ‘We will continue evaluating our approach’: Hinshaw on COVID-19 cases in Alberta schools
‘We will continue evaluating our approach’: Hinshaw on COVID-19 cases in Alberta schools – Sep 8, 2020

From September to December, the province had used WATCH, ALERT and OUTBREAK statuses to report on infections in school, however, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Jan. 14 that parents and stakeholders were finding that system confusing, so it was updated.

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Hinshaw said early on in the school year that Albertans “can reasonably expect some infections at schools.”

“We also need to remember that there are no risk-free options with COVID(-19) and that we must support every aspect of our children’s health,” she said.

Hinshaw announced that starting Oct. 8, Alberta Health Services was trying a new method of notifying parents of close contacts in schools: by email instead of by phone.

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“This will allow us to provide immediate notice and give detailed written instructions to parents on next steps.”

AHS has more guidance online about testing, isolation, when household members need to isolate, when children can go back to school and what to do when your child feels unwell or if AHS has determined them a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Alberta’s first school outbreak was declared at Henry Wise Wood High School on Sept. 9.

Read more: As more Alberta schools report single COVID-19 cases, province launches map tracking school outbreaks

Hinshaw said because of the increased interest in school outbreaks, the map will be updated daily.

On the last day of school June 29, there were outbreaks or active alerts in 130 schools, which represents about five per cent of schools in the province.

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