The mother of a Chinook High School student in Lethbridge who tested positive for COVID-19 says her child was not aware he was infectious and showed zero symptoms.
She has asked for her identity not to be shared to protect her son.
She says the information put out by both the school division and Alberta Health Services suggested he was knowingly infectious, rather than unknowingly asymptomatic, and it put a target on them, which resulted in numerous accusatory texts from other students to her son’s phone.
“He did get a lot of negative texts stating: ‘I heard you had COVID-19. Now you’ve shut down the school. Thanks a lot,’” she said.
“And there was a little bit of hate mail there. So it’s been extremely difficult for him because he didn’t do anything wrong. He had no idea he had it.”
She began to worry about her child’s anonymity, safety and fair treatment at the school moving forward.
“Our biggest message right now — and the reason we’re coming forward — is we don’t want other kids to be targeted like ours have been,” she said.
“We’re the first so obviously it’s going to be the hardest.”
Officials from Chinook High School and the Lethbridge School Division declined to comment on the situation, saying they preferred to deal with the families directly.
This parent confirmed to Global News on Friday that she has since received a call from the school about her concerns. The principal assured her that her son would be welcomed back and that more information would be shared with parents to quell any rumors.
“High school kids can figure out anything, they’re very smart, so it doesn’t take much to figure it out,” she said.
“So moving forward, the school district and AHS has to figure out a better way to make sure these kids aren’t being targeted.”
She hopes sharing her story means other parents and students do not experience the same backlash in any future school COVID-19 cases.
“I think the school has been learning as they go, with AHS, to some degree as well. Me and the mother of the other child were told completely different protocols,” she said.
“Hopefully from this experience going forward they’ll know what to do next time, they’ll know how to handle this and they’ll know how to support our kids.”