Alberta advocacy group launches online list tracking COVID-19 at K-12 schools

With students heading back to school across Alberta, a parent-student advocacy group has launched an online list tracking K-12 schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The tracker was created by Support Our Students Alberta (SOS), a non-partisan and non-profit organization that says it is “fighting for the rights of all children to an equitable and accessible public education system.”

According to SOS, the number of schools with confirmed cases is updated as soon as it receives documentation from either the school or Alberta Health Services that a student or individual at the school has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read more: Positive COVID-19 cases confirmed at 9 Calgary schools

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With confirmed cases rising each day since students returned to school last week, concerns from parents are also growing.

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“It has been very stressful,” SOS’s director of communications Wing Li said. “It’s been an awakening in a way for a lot of parents. The government was telling us that this was inevitable and cases are going to happen, but not to this degree.

“I think many parents were a bit shocked.”

Li says she believes that people require information in times of crisis and says that is why the tracker was created.

Read more: Symptoms, confirmed cases and outbreaks — How Alberta plans to handle COVID-19 in schools

Since the tracker’s launch, Li says SOS’s website has seen “an explosion” of visits.

On Tuesday, however, there were questions regarding why SOS’s number of schools with confirmed cases was higher than the number being reported by AHS.

The explanation, according to Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, is two-fold.

“If you have a student in a school who became ill and went for testing but actually wasn’t in the school for the two days prior to that illness onset, yes, there’s a case in that school environment,” Hinshaw explained. “But if they didn’t acquire it in the school, and they didn’t transmit it or couldn’t have transmitted it into the school environment, it’s not counted in those 11 schools that I’m speaking about.”

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Read more: Alberta school delays in-classroom learning by 2 weeks due to COVID-19 case

Another reason, according to Hinshaw, why there could be a disparity in numbers is that there is a delay in AHS’s reporting of confirmed cases.

Hinshaw also discussed a soon-to-be-available resource that will list all schools in Alberta where there are outbreaks of more than five cases of COVID-19 — or schools with alerts in place.

“The website that we’re working on will provide information on the school alerts — the schools where there are two or more cases or where there is some early identification of transmission,” Hinshaw said. “And to be clear, we have no schools where that is the case right now.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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