COVID-19 cases rising in Alberta's kids and teens
CALGARY -- School is out for the Thanksgiving weekend, and when Alberta’s classes resume on Tuesday, it’s safe to assume attendance won’t be perfect.
Alberta has never recorded more positive COVID-19 cases among school-aged children than it did over the last seven days.
During that time, there were more than 300 positive tests among those aged five to 19.
The majority of them were among teenagers.
Testing is increasing, but so too is the percentage of positives.
“We have a lot of young people with the virus,” Craig Jenne with the University of Calgary’s department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases said.
“Just the simple fact that there is more virus in the community increases the chances of the virus can enter the schools. If we have a lot of young people with the virus, even though they themselves are not necessarily a high risk of hospitalization, they could easily spread the virus to people who are at risk.”
There are almost 200 schools in the province with at least one confirmed case, and dozens are currently in outbreak status because multiple students or staff have tested positive.
Many medical experts anticipated a jump when schools opened, but they also predicted a slow down or levelling out later on.
That seems to have lasted only a week or two in Alberta’s schools.
“I think the good news is the majority of cases in the schools — not all of them, but the majority of them — still seem to be cases that are picked up outside the school,” Jenne said.
But at least one parent believes the origin is less important than the impact.
“(It’s) a huge disruption to school and a parent’s ability to work,” Sara Austin told CTV News. “That’s not acceptable.”
Austin is with Children First Canada. A recent surgery from the group revealed 13 per cent of Canadian parents say one of their children has been sent home from school for COVID-19-related symptoms.
“What we’re hearing from parents is the issue of testing times and the amount of time waiting for test results is having a huge implication on their kid’s education,” Austin said.
”Nearly a million parents have had to miss work in the last month to look after their children.”
ALTERNATIVE LEARNING STRATEGY?
Tsuut’ina Nation schools had to cancel in-person learning this week after a positive test, but the nation has been emphasizing online learning all year.
That means, according to staff, the distraction was minimal.
“They are already set up online and in-person, so (when) we needed to switch or send people home for a little bit of time, it kind of mitigated how much disruption we had,” Joel Fischer said.
Whether all of Alberta could move to that mixed model in the future isn’t out of the question.
But even as cases in kids and teens continue to rise, it seems in-person classes are still the preferred solution of the provincial government.