Sask. public health order changes COVID-19 self-isolation exemptions for elementary students

An update to Saskatchewan’s public health order is limiting self-isolation exemptions for students exposed to COVID-19 outside of the classroom.

Under the public order, students are deemed close contacts if they are in the same room as a COVID-positive person for more than 15 minutes or if they are exposed to someone with the virus while riding the bus to or from school.

Unvaccinated students who are not experiencing symptoms are exempt from self-isolation requirements to attend school and ride the bus. However, they cannot participate in extra-curricular activities.

Fully vaccinated students are not required to self-isolate, in accordance with the rules for the general public.

According to changes to the public health order issued Sept. 30, if unvaccinated students become close contacts due to an “exposure in the household,” they must self-isolate, which means they cannot attend class.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health confirmed the change was made to recognize COVID-19 trends.

“We are not seeing high rates of in-school transmission. Most cases presenting in school are acquired through household exposures,” the statement read.

Previous health orders issued Sept. 17 and Sept. 22 allowed asymptomatic close contacts to attend class, regardless of where the students were exposed.

“If a student is a close contact from an exposure outside of their household including at school or extracurricular activities, they may be exempted from the required isolation only for the purpose to attend school as long as they remain asymptomatic. Otherwise they are to isolate,” the ministry said.

CUTTING DOWN ON CLASSROOM EXPOSURES

To help cut down on classroom exposures, the province is deploying 475,000 self-test kits to Saskatchewan schools.

All 47 Regina public elementary schools and 25 Regina Catholic schools are expected to receive take-home kits this week.

Families with kids under the age of 12 can request a free kit of 25 tests.

A spokesperson for Regina Public Schools says not all of its elementary schools have received the kits yet. However, many families are already expressing interest, primarily in schools with COVID-19 cases.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is recommending families take the tests twice a week.

The SHA is hosting two online information sessions for families to learn more about the self-testing kits on Tuesday.