'This is your fault, Jason': Calgary principal blames province for lack of support during COVID-19 pandemic
CALGARY -- The principal of Bowness High School in northwest Calgary has sent a fiery message to the province in response to an individual testing positive at her school.
In a Facebook post over the weekend, Jana Macdonald said she’s "furious, scared, anxious and sad" as she lays full blame on the premier and education minister.
"This is not my fault. This is your fault, Jason. This is your fault, Adriana," reads Macdonald’s post.
"My staff, teachers, support staff and caretakers have worked so hard to create a safe and welcoming space for our students to learn. While this case was brought into our school from an outside source, I know people will now be afraid — the exact opposite of what school should be for kids and school staff."
Macdonald extended an invitation to Premier Jason Kenney and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to the school, adding that all Alberta Health guidelines have been followed but more support is needed.
"I have a very heavy load and I’ve never been more angry. This could have been avoided with the support of the government," she said. "I would love to have you sit in a typical classroom and follow a student for the day to understand the impact of your ignorant decisions."
The Calgary Board of Education sent a letter to parents and guardians on Saturday confirming that a single individual at Bowness High School had tested positive for COVID-19.
Geoff Steele has two children who attend Bowness High School and one is currently in isolation as a result of potential exposure to the confirmed case. He lauds the principal for speaking out.
"Thankfully somebody is standing up and saying what needs to be said here. I think it’s really important. Somebody needs to be accountable for decisions that were made," said Steele. "I have two kids here and one that recently subject to isolation for which there doesn’t appear to be any justification. The decisions, the boundaries that they’ve used to decide who gets put in isolation make no sense and we’ve seen no evidence. There’s no proof of who made this decision or how it was made. What’s the justification? What’s the reasoning? "
"We’ve had three phone calls from AHS since and nobody is able to give us any clear justification for why these students have been put into isolation and so many of them over one apparent case."
The identity of that individual has not been released and the school remains open.
Kiah Draper, a Bowness High School student, says its been impossible to observe social distancing in the school's hallways and stairwells between classes.
"It's a bit worrisome that we are being introduced back into school when it was expected we'd get COVID-19 cases as we are all so close together."
Draper says it's concerning that schools in Alberta were not given additional time to plan for social distancing and santizations, citing the decision to push back the first day of class at schools in Toronto. "I feel that we have just been pushed right back into it."
Staff at Bowness High School will continue to work with Alberta Health Services officials to sanitize all surfaces and deep clean the building.
All visitors, volunteers, students, staff and parents that have come into close contact with the confirmed case will be contacted by AHS.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, maintained in her Friday press conference that COVID-19 cases at schools would not be unexpected. She adds that the province will continue to work closely with schools administrators so they know who to contact when a positive case is found.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Calgary schools
In addition to Bowness High School, CTV News has confirmed eight other schools in Calgary have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Aug. 31.
Administrators at Lester B. Pearson High School in northeast Calgary confirmed that someone tested positive for COVID-19 and close contacts have been notified.
Bridlewood School, an elementary school in southwest Calgary, sent a letter to parents and guardians informing them that an individual tested positive at the school, but no close contacts have been identified.
St. Angela School, a Calgary Catholic School District elementary school in the northeast community of Bridgeland, confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 and says it will work closely with AHS to ensure the safety of all staff, students and parents.
A positive case was confirmed at Canyon Meadows School on Aug. 31. The principal, assistant principal and administrative secretary have gone into quarantine for 14 days as they were identified as close contacts.
The other affected schools include Divine Mercy Elementary, Notre Dame High School, St. Francis High School and St. Wilfrid Elementary School, which are part of the Calgary Catholic School District.
All schools in Calgary with positive cases remain open at this time. The identities of those who tested positive for COVID-19 will not be released in order to protect patient confidentiality.