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Parent group wants more done in Alberta to prevent fall triple-demic

Families are being urged to take precautions for flu season but some parents worry not enough is being done in schools to prevent another triple-demic as seen last year.

In the winter hospitals and intensive care units saw an influx of people suffering from various respiration illnesses including influenza, COVID-19, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick. It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask,” said Alberta health minister Adriana LaGrange.

The warning for parents to be vigilant to stop the spread comes as some schools in Calgary experience rapidly rising rates of kids staying home sick.

The Calgary Board of Education’s (CBE) reporting of kindergarten to grade 12 absences more than doubled from the start of September when it was at 1.7 per cent to 4.6 per cent on Wednesday.

Adriana LaGrange, Alberta's education minister, says new supports from the provincial government include additional funding for mental health initiatives designed to help students overcome their disruption to learning during the pandemic.

Waste water surveillance data also reflects a recent surge in traces of influenza in Calgary.

Medeana Moussa with parent advocacy group Support Our Students said the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s surge of the triple-demic highlights the need to do more.

“Over time there has been an investment neglect from the Alberta government to prioritize smaller class sizes and it’s just common sense to recognize that is going to cause more and more impact to students' health and teachers' health,” she said. “We’ve had so much disruptions especially the last two years. Last year was definitely better, but any level of disruption causes more and more learning loss.”

Moussa would like to see the government reduce class sizes and invest more funding in schools.

She would also like to see schools improve their ventilation.

“Why is the air quality not being monitored and published? If there’s an opportunity to improve it we should probably take it because we have other considerations in classrooms with heavy smoke indexes that are plaguing our communities. “

In a statement sent to CTV News, the CBE says it upgraded to MERV 13 filters in some schools in the spring of 2022.

“These filters continue to be utilized this school year and are changed more frequently. In addition, all CBE schools are mechanically ventilated and systems are set to maximize air exchange.

"With these measures in place, the CBE’s position regarding portable air cleaning devices remains unchanged at this time, while continuing to closely monitor this matter to ensure the CBE continues to remain fully compliant with all provincial direction and legislated requirements.”

Similarly, the Calgary Catholic School Division (CCSD) says its facilities exceed all provincial ventilation and building code requirements.

“We regularly review ventilation and air change in our schools, consider direction from national and provincial authorities, and evaluate and incorporate direction from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to ensure that our facilities are safe spaces for the long term.”

In an emailed statement, the office of the minister of education said Alberta school jurisdictions receive capital maintenance and renewal funding annually to help repair and replace major facility components, such as HVAC mechanical upgrades.

“In 2020, Alberta’s government provided school divisions with additional capital maintenance and renewal funding, which could be applied to HVAC mechanical upgrades,” the minister’s office said in the statement.

“Based on received reporting, school divisions used around $44 million for these respective upgrades."


The government is launching a reporting dashboard for respiratory illnesses that Minister LaGrange says should be available in the coming weeks.

It will offer insights into COVID-19, influenza, and RSV cases in Alberta.

According to the most recent data, there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of RSV since August 28 which the LaGrange says is consistent for this time of year.

Between August 28 and September 8 there were 559 cases of COVID-19. 92 people were hospitalized with the virus including three in the ICU. Five Albertans died from COVID-19 in that time frame.

As of September 8, 417 people are in hospital, including seven in the ICU.

Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines will be available to Albertans October 16. Top Stories

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