COVID-19 outbreak declared at Sherwood Park elementary school

An elementary school east of Edmonton is on outbreak status with more than a tenth of its students at home sick.

Alberta Health Services notified staff and families on Sept. 8 of a "COVID-19/Respiratory Illness" outbreak at Woodbridge Farms Elementary School.

As per an August decision by the provincial government, the notice doesn't outline mandatory quarantine requirements for close contacts or notify parents their child specifically was exposed.

Instead, it recommends anyone who develops symptoms to isolate and call 811.

Elks Island Public Schools, the division of which Woodbridge Farms is a part, confirmed the information sent to families but had no further comment on the situation.

AHS Woodbridge Farms respiratory illness outbreak notification by CTV News Edmonton on Scribd

Neither AHS nor a school's staff or community is required to report positive cases to schools, under Alberta Education's back-to-school plan. Likewise, schools are not required to report confirmed cases to AHS, unless there is a school-wide absence rate of 10 per cent or more as is the case at Woodbridge Farms. If AHS finds the absences are due to an illness, it may declare an outbreak and recommend more measures to reduce transmission. The decision, officials said at the time, stemmed from there no longer being a legal requirement for close contacts to quarantine.

Similarly, the province is not conducting contact tracing in schools in order to use those personnel resources elsewhere.

The president of the Alberta Teachers' Association called that data "vital" to school operations the previous year.

"Focusing on learning, mental health and the wellbeing should be the work that schools and teachers are doing, not contact tracing. That's government work," Jason Schilling told CTV News.  

Three of Calgary's public schools were the location of an outbreak, as of Wednesday.

According to the latest data, a little less than 3,000 of Alberta's 15,600 active cases are people aged five to 19.