The Alberta Government is altering the way it reports COVID-19 cases in schools.
Officials announced Thursday that they would be changing the requirement for alerts and outbreaks. As of Monday, an alert will be classified as a school with one to four cases and an outbreak is five-plus cases. Previously, an outbreak was declared if a school had two or more cases.
“We are committed to clear communication, and this change in how we describe case numbers in schools helps us improve,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“The terms we will use going forward are more intuitive, and we hope they will help staff and parents better understand the COVID-19 situation in their schools.”
Currently, schools with COVID-19 cases are described as either being on alert, outbreak or watch. Each category reflects a certain number of cases at a particular school.
Alberta School Boards Association Lorrie Jess said the changes will help parents better understand cases in schools.
“(We have) been advocating for shifting the terminology used by the Government of Alberta regarding COVID-19 cases in schools and is supportive of changes that will provide clarity for education staff, parents, students and community members alike,” she said.
“We look forward to our continued collaboration with the ministry as we all ensure student and staff safety is prioritized.”
Schools with two or more cases will continue to be reflected on the province’s COVID-19 school map. Public health support provided to students, staff and families remains unchanged, the province noted.
Parents will still be notified when there is a single case in a school and further supports will be initiated when there are two or more cases in a school.
As of Jan. 14, there were 15 COVID-19 cases in schools since the return to in-class learning. Ten schools are on alert and two are on outbreak status.